Good Morning! I am going to review, over the next 2-3 days, the dietary and vitamin recommendations for patients that have been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration.
Today’s Post: What has been proven and not proven to work. Focusing on the AREDS study and the supplements.
Next: Part II: What looks promising from a dietary standpoint, i.e. what things to eat that may help AMD, but not proven. Read Part II.
Last: The AREDS 2 study, what questions it hopes to answer.
A few years ago in 2001, the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS or AREDS 1) study results were published. You can read the actual press release here…Click To Read AREDS Press Release. It was a huge study that analyzed the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataract when given certain supplements. The AREDS study has been the only study testing the effects of supplements on your eyes. The AREDS 2 study is underway.
The Direct and Honest Answer.
1. No diet has been proven to alter the chances of developing macular degeneration so far. NOTHING!
2. The only supplement/vitamin proven to be effective is the so-called AREDS formula (containing vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc) and this supplement/vitamin was only effective in patients with moderate to high-risk characteristics of macular degeneration (i.e. those with diagnosed macular degeneration). Patients with low or no risk characteristics of macular degeneration did not benefit from the AREDS formula.
3. Lutein and zeaxanthin have also not been studied directly (they will be in AREDS 2), that is, they have yet to be proven to work.
1. Patients that have so-called high risk characteristics of macular degeneration had a 25% decrease in the likelihood of developing the ‘wet’ form of macular degeneration in one eye. The chance of developing the wet form decreased from 28% to 21% while taking the supplements. Patients at “intermediate risk” showed a 19% decrease in developing the wet form.
2. No other benefit was shown from taking these vitamins.
3. These high/intermediate risk patients should take the AREDS formulation (available over the counter) as long as they don’t smoke. There is a smoker’s formulation, too.
The Not so Direct and Honest Answer. Beware of the hype.
There are a ton of vitamins available that claim to “cure” macular degeneration. All of this is hype with exception of the AREDS study and formula. Many doctors recommend taking vitamins to prevent macular degeneration, but there is no data or study to support this. The AREDS study simply says that patients taking high doses of certain anti-oxidants, with zinc, may be beneficial. Be careful when you read advertisements or listen the TV or radio.
There are also many products touting they contain the key ingredient “lutein” for macular degeneration. There was an association in the AREDS 1 study, but there is no proof yet.
Read Part II
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist