Dietary supplements for age-related macular degeneration

Results of the age-related eye disease studies (AREDS)

The AREDS started in 1992 and was designed to evaluate whether dietary supplements could decrease loss of vision from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The results of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) were first published in 2001 and longer term results have continued to be published since. Results from AREDS 2 became available in 2013.

Study Results

AMD. These large, well-done studies showed that for patients at high risk of developing advanced AMD (those with intermediate AMD in one or both eyes, or those with advanced AMD in one eye) tablets containing a combination of anti-oxidants and zinc significantly reduced the chance of developing advanced AMD over a seven-year period by 25 percent when compared with the placebo (a pill without the vitamins).

AREDS supplements are available “over the counter”, that is, they do not require a prescription.

Recommendations

1 – If you are at high risk of developing advanced AMD, you should consider taking supplements like those used in AREDS. High-risk people have either intermediate AMD in one or both eyes (many medium-sized drusen or any large drusen), or advanced AMD in one eye only (advanced atrophic form or neovascular form). Supplements provide no apparent benefit for those with early AMD or no AMD, and there is no apparent need to take them. However, yearly eye examinations are advisable to determine if the disease is progressing.

2 – Your eye doctor can tell you if you have the high-risk level of AMD by performing an eye examination of your retinas through dilated pupils.

3 – Because the AREDS formulation has a high level of anti-oxidants and zinc, discuss the advisability of taking them with your eye doctor and your primary care physician. This is especially important for individuals with chronic diseases for which they may be taking other medications.

4 – The AREDS formulation is now available in stores that sell dietary supplements. Brand names of such products include I-Caps and PreserVision. Most regular multivitamins do not contain doses as high as those recommended in AREDS. There are vitamins available that contain the AREDS nutrients combined with a multi-vitamin. The components in AREDS can be purchased separately. The individual supplements and the amount to take daily are:

  • Vitamin E – 400 IU (International Units)
  • Vitamin C – 500 milligrams
  • Lutein – 10 milligrams
  • Zeaxanthin – 2 milligrams
  • Zinc – 80 milligrams
  • Copper – 2 milligrams (must be included when taking zinc) – to avoid copper deficiency anemia which can be associated with high zinc intake
For more information or to make an appointment:

Eye Care Center
Winona Health, Clinic 3rd floor
859 Mankato Avenue
Winona, MN 55987

507.474.4760
8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday

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