You’ve probably seen ads for vitamins to protect your vision. So can vitamins really prevent vision loss? Which supplements prevent age-related macular degeneration?
Can vitamins prevent vision loss?
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study, or AREDS, studied whether taking specially formulated vitamins kept people with age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, from losing more vision. Researchers found that supplements did slow down the progression to advanced AMD for people who already had it.
Which vitamins and supplements prevent macular degeneration?
Last year, the National Eye Institute released results from the AREDS2 study, which changed the formula. AREDS2 supplements work slightly better than the original AREDS vitamins, especially for people with low dietary levels of the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin.
The AREDS2 formula is vitamin E (400 IU), vitamin C (500 mg), zinc (80 mg), copper (2mg) and lutein/zeaxanthin (10mg/2mg).
The AREDS2 supplements do not contain beta-carotene, which can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers and former smokers. They have lutein/zeaxanthin instead. In the most recent study, this combination was found to be superior to beta-carotene.
Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) were studied in the AREDS2 trial but were not found to be beneficial, so they are not included in the current recommended formula.
Learn more about AREDS and AREDS2.
Where should I buy supplements to prevent vision loss from AMD?
If you have AMD, you may benefit from taking the AREDS2 formula. At the drugstore, you can find Ocuvite PreserVision AREDS2 (green label). At Oregon Eye Specialists, we carry MacularProtect S-formula at our Lake Grove and Aloha locations. Online, you can find Visivite (the AREDS2 “Red Formula” is suitable for vegans), and Viteyes. Your Oregon Eye Specialists doctor can recommend the right formulation and dose.
Should everyone take vitamins to prevent vision loss?
If you don’t have AMD, there is no proven benefit to taking vision supplements. To prevent vision loss, ophthalmologists recommend eating a nutritious diet rich in leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, avoiding smoking and getting regular eye exams.
A dilated eye examination is the only way to find AMD. If you do develop this disease, catching it as early as possible allows you to start supplements, or treatments for wet AMD, as soon as possible.
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AMD is more common in people 50 and older. Everyone in this age group needs a complete eye exam every year or two.
Read more on Jennifer Lyons, M.D.