If you already have macular degeneration, or AMD, taking a supplement with high levels of antioxidants and zinc could reduce your risk of developing advanced AMD and vision loss.
The AREDS study
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study, or AREDS, was a major study by the National Eye Institute. It found that people with intermediate AMD in both eyes or advanced AMD in one eye could lower their risk of more advanced disease by taking a high-dose supplement.
The original AREDS formula is sold as Ocuvite PreserVision. Another supplement is MacularProtect from ScienceBased Health which Oregon Eye Specialists offers at the Lake Grove and Aloha locations, or your ophthalmologist can tell you where to buy either of them.
AREDS update—the AREDS2 study
In May 2013, the NEI released results from a five-year study called AREDS2 based on the AREDS results. AREDS2 tested whether adding omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin made AREDS supplements more protective against advanced AMD.
Researchers found that AREDS supplements with lutein and zeaxanthin protected slightly better than the original formula with beta-carotene, especially for people with low dietary levels of these nutrients. They were also safer for smokers than supplements with beta-carotene, which may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers and former smokers.
Do AREDS vitamins help everyone?
If you already have AMD, and are at high risk of developing advanced AMD, AREDS supplements can help. There is no benefit to people without AMD or early AMD.
Worried you might get AMD? Regular general eye exams are your best option. An eye doctor can check for signs of AMD and discuss your family history and other risk factors.
What vitamins are in PreserVision – the AREDS original formula?
The AREDS original formula included:
Vitamin C – 500 milligrams
Vitamin E – 400 international units
Beta-carotene – 15 milligrams (equal to 25,000 IU of vitamin A)
Zinc (as zinc oxide) – 80 milligrams
Copper (as cupric oxide) – 2 milligrams
The original formula of Ocuvite PreserVision contains approximately the same amounts.
The AREDS2 formula contains less zinc, no beta-carotene and the same amounts of lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids studied in AREDS2.
Is beta-carotene being phased out of the AREDS vitamins?
The AREDS2 formula does not contain beta-carotene. Instead, it has lutein and zeaxanthin.
The original AREDS vitamins include beta-carotene, labeled as vitamin A. The AREDS2 study found that taking beta-carotene was associated with more lung cancer in former smokers, even though people who took it had quit smoking more than a year earlier.
Removing beta-carotene did not make the vitamins less effective; lutein and zeaxanthin actually worked somewhat better to protect against advanced AMD.
If you have AMD, talk to your eye doctor about the best AREDS supplement for you.
Make an appointment
AMD is most common in people 50 and older. Everyone in this age group needs a complete eye exam every one to two years.