AMD is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain.
The first AREDS study conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI) went from 1992-1998 and involved a over 4500 people tracking the development of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Study researchers tested whether taking nutritional supplements could prevent or slow these diseases.
In 2006 the National Eye Institute (NEI) launched a second study adding omega-3 fatty acids or lutein + zeaxanthin to see if it would make the AREDS formula more effective. Over the course of the five year study, over 4000 participants with AMD reported on the progression in their eyes. AREDS2 participants who took antioxidants minus beta-carotene but with lutein + zeaxanthin (AREDS2 formula) had an incremental increase in benefit, compared to those who took the AREDS formula.
Foods rich in vitamins C, E, Beta-Carotene, zinc, and Copper are not only good for general health, they are beneficial to eye health according to the Age-Related Eye Diseases Study (AREDS), funded by the National Eye Institute, and other research agencies.
AREDS scientists found that people at high risk for developing advanced AMD, those with intermediate AMD, and those with advanced AMD in one eye only, reduced their risk of developing advanced AMD by about 25 percent when treated with the combination of antioxidants and zinc + copper (final AREDS formula). The AREDS formula also reduced the risk of central vision loss by 19% in the same group. However, none of the formulations decreased cataract risk. The AREDS study determined that the following nutrients may lower the risk of AMD later in life.
The AREDS formula includes:
· Vitamin C
· Vitamin E
AREDS investigators followed participants for an additional five years. Ten years after enrollment, about 70% of participants were taking the antioxidants plus zinc + copper formulation (AREDS formula). The investigators found that participants who had been assigned to antioxidants plus zinc + copper formulation in the trial were 25-30% less likely to develop advanced AMD than those who had originally been assigned to placebo. Among participants at the highest risk for AMD, 34% who had taken the antioxidants plus zinc + copper (AREDS formula) in the trial progressed to advanced AMD, compared to 44% who had taken the placebo.
AREDS2, the second study was launched to determine the efficacy and safety of Lutein and Zeaxanthin supplementation to reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD. The AREDS studies have found that people with AMD may be able to slow the progression of the disease by taking a special nutrient supplements that have been developed as a result of the AREDS2 research. The AREDS2 formulation does not contain beta carotene and adds omega-3 fatty acids Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
The AREDS2 formula includes:
· Vitamin C
· Vitamin E
The results of the AREDS and AREDS2 studies are promising news for people who are at risk for or already have AMD. However, it is important to discuss taking macular supplements with your ophthalmologist to determine if they are recommended for you. There are many people who should avoid taking large doses of antioxidants or zinc for medical reasons. If you currently take an older version of the supplement based on the original AREDS formula, please ask your ophthalmologist before you switch to an AREDS 2 formula.
People who smoke should consult their physician before taking the original AREDS supplement, because one of the ingredients, beta carotene, and or vitamin A has been associated with a higher risk of lung cancer in smokers or people who have recently quit smoking. An alternate version of the original AREDS supplement formulated to be safe for smokers is available. Your ophthalmologist can give you more information on this option.
Please remember: vitamins and nutritional supplements are not a cure for eye disease, nor will they give you back vision that you may have already lost. But good nutrition at all ages is vital for your entire body and plays an important role in maintaining healthy eyes. Talk with your ophthalmologist about any concerns you have about your eye health.
Diet and Nutrition. (2019, November 07). Retrieved September 22, 2020, from
AREDS/AREDS2 Clinical Trials. (2020, April 13). Retrieved September 23, 2020, from https://www.nei.nih.gov/research/clinical-trials/age-related-eye-disease-studies-aredsareds2/about-areds-and-areds2
Click below to learn more about The NEI conducted the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and the follow-on AREDS2 to study cataract and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are important nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, as well as other foods, such as eggs.
Diets supplemented with Lutein and Zeaxanthin nutrients may help reduce the risk of chronic age-related eye diseases.
Ask someone who has Age-Related Macular Degeneration to see if they take vitamins and find out if it has helped.
If you have questions about taking Macular Supplements, call your Ophthalmologist to see if they are right for you.
If you have macular degeneration and the vitamins have helped, tell someone about it. Vitamins are the only therapy for macular degeneration.
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