Macular Degeneration Nutrition

AREDS 2 Vitamin Study for Macular Degeneration

AREDS vitamins can slow down ARMD in certain patients. AREDS 2 results were just released. Not much new information, but still a valuable study.

Results of AREDS 2 Study for Vitamins to treat Macular DegenerationThe original AREDS study (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) was published in 2001 and concluded that a combination of vitamins and supplements, the “AREDS Formula,” consisting of  vitamin C, vitamin E, B-Carotene, zinc and copper could reduce the risk of developing advanced ARMD.

  1. The “AREDS Formula” has been recommended for patients with intermediate or high risk ARMD.  The AREDS study found that in these patients, the eye vitamins reduced the chance of severe vision loss by 25%.
  2. The eye vitamins do not improve the vision or stage of the disease, but do prevent those at high risk from getting worse.  Unless, there is evidence of macular degeneration showing these risk factors…there is no need for taking the AREDS vitamins.
  3. Lutein and  zeaxanthin (pigmented anti-oxidants) were never studied directly.  Both were associated with improvements in macular degeneration, but neither were ever proven to improve macular degeneration.
  4. Omega-3 fatty acids were suspected to retard macular degeneration, but never proven.
  5. B-Carotene increases the chance of lung cancer in smokers.

AREDS Formula (2001)

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • B-Carotene
  • Zinc
  • Copper

AREDS 2 Study Tested

In 2006, AREDS II was initiated to determine if improvements could be made on the AREDS formula.  Specifically questions asked

  1. Do omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA) reduce AMD or cataract?
  2. Do antioxidants, lutein/zeaxanthin, reduce AMD or cataract?
  3. What is the role of zinc?
  4. What is the role of B-Carotene?

AREDS 2 Study Results

  1. Omega-3 fatty acids had no effect on reducing macular degeneration nor cataract formation.
  2. Antioxidants, lutein/zeaxanthin,  did not retard the progression of macular degeneration.
  3. Reducing the amount of zinc did not change the effectiveness of the AREDS formulation.
  4. B-Carotene did increase the rate of lung cancer in former smokers (active smokers were not given B-carotene), but there may be advantages to substituting lutein/zeaxanthin  for the B-carotene in smokers.

What Does this Mean?

Though it seems that little new information was produced from the AREDS 2 study, in fact, the study was very positive.

The results of the AREDS study were validated.  Patients who have high risk or intermediate risk factors for AMD should be recommended to take the AREDS formula vitamins.  Those who do not have these risk factors, including “normal” people, do not need to take these vitamins.

B-carotene should not be taken by smokers or former smokers.  This was suspected, but now has been validated.  There are AREDS formulations available for smokers (no B-Carotene).

Unfortunately, omega- 3 fatty acids (e.g. fish oils) and antioxidants also have no role in preventing macular degeneration.  This also means, those products touting the importance of lutein…are unfounded.


Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Retina Specialist
Fairfax, Virginia

By Randall Wong, M.D.

As a retina specialist, I've been very successful with my websites to educate my patients about what I do professionally.

I am a father of five, have a passion for SEO, love Dunkin' Donuts and don't care for Starbucks coffee, love tennis, but only like to watch golf. I'm a huge youth ice hockey supporter and love Labrador retrievers.

5 replies on “AREDS 2 Vitamin Study for Macular Degeneration”

Thanks for reducing the NIH study report to an understandable level for us “commoners”. Can you recommend a specific supplement by brand and name that I should be taking to slow the advancement of AMD? If you cannot cite a specific brand and name, can you give me the specific formulation to look for?

People should be aware that supplements containing high amounts of zinc can block copper absorption. Copper deficiency is a serious problem that needs to be treated by a doctor.

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