Vitamins have been proven helpful for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that can blur central vision.
The efficacy of a natural remedy on this common eye condition was confirmed in clinical trials, which found that the ARED/AREDS2 supplements may delay progression of intermediate to advanced AMD and prolong vision.
The AREDS clinical trial was conducted in the 1990s, followed by AREDS2, which used additional components that were possibly more beneficial than the ingredients in the original formula, explained Thomas Friberg, MD, FACS, Professor of Ophthalmology and Director, Medical and Surgical Retinal Diseases at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
“The positive effect was found at five years when patients with some AMD had less severe visual loss than those on placebo,” Dr. Friberg added. “They reduced the chance of severe visual loss by 18-25 percent.”
Commercially available formulas based on AREDS/AREDS2 include vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, and zinc. AREDS has beta-carotene, while AREDS2 has lutein and zeaxanthin. Due to the beta-carotene, AREDS is not recommended for current or former smokers because of the higher incidence of lung cancer.
Note that the levels of vitamins and minerals in AREDS/AREDS2 are different than most multivitamins and should not be a substitution for multivitamins. The brand that has all the components in the AREDS2 formula is Preservision made by Bausch and Lomb. Other brands that have the same makeup should be ok, according to Dr. Friberg. He added that some brands suggest that their vitamin only needs to be taken once a day, “but if you look carefully at their ingredients, they are not likely to have all of the recommended components.”
If someone has been diagnosed with some AMD by their eye doctor, they should consider taking these supplements when they are in their 50s, Dr. Friberg said. And avoid smoking, which is a very strong risk factor for losing vision from macular degeneration.