Eye Vitamins for Macular Degeneration

Eye Vitamins for Macular Degeneration

Vitamins for Macular Degeneration Can Prevent Vision LossMost people with macular degeneration do not need vitamins.  Only certain individuals may gain a benefit from taking eye vitamins, but these are a particular subset of all patients with macular degeneration.

Who Should Take Vitamins

The famous AREDS Study (Age Related Eye Disease Study) was completed a few years ago and proved that certain antioxidants and zinc could reduce the chances of developing severe vision loss from macular degeneration.

The “AREDS Formula” includes antioxidants Vitamin C, E and Beta-Carotene, copper and zinc.

This formulation determined that ONLY those patients who exhibit medium to high risk characteristics of macular degeneration should take the vitamin.

In these select cases, only 25% of patients were protected from severe advancement of the disease.

That’s all it said.

Vitamins Don’t Improve Vision

The vitamins do not improve vision that is already lost.

Macular degeneration primarily destroys central vision in both the wet form and the dry form.  Patients with the wet form of macular degeneration may benefit from intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF whereas there is no acceptable treatment for the dry form.

In either case, the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) layer of the retina and photoreceptors are destroyed and taking the vitamins does NOT REVERSE this process.

AREDS 2 is Ongoing

A second study, Age Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), is underway and will answer the following questions;  1) the value of taking lutein (never been proven to work!) 2) the role of omega-3 fatty acids in preventing ARMD and the potential efficacy of Beta-Carotene.

The study concludes in 2013-14.

What Does This Mean?

These eye vitamins are over-prescribed.

In most cases of macular degeneration, there is simply nothing to do…nothing.

Doctors are in the healing and helping business.  Most who recommend the vitamins probably have no clear understanding of the AREDS study.

Many recommend vitamins unable to resist the inability to “treat.”   After all, they are vitamins, right?

When I am referred patients to confirm the diagnosis of macular degeneration, many have already started vitamins.  It is hard for me to contradict my colleagues, but in my opinion, it is my duty to practice “evidence based” medicine…choosing methods and medicines proven to work.

While there is plenty of circumstantial evidence regarding the value of vitamins, little proof actually exists, especially with regard to eye health and macular degeneration.

For now, there is simply no evidence that eye disease is altered by taking theses vitamins except for those with moderate to high risk macular degeneration.

Instead of asking your doctor about vitamins, you should confirm the diagnosis of macular degeneration, and if so, determine if you have moderate to high risk characteristics.



  • yc c
    Posted at 05:26h, 28 July Reply

    what is yellow dot dystrophy

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 11:35h, 31 July Reply

      Dear Yc,

      I don’t know of a specific syndrome or disease with that name.



  • Bonnie Kaiser
    Posted at 23:25h, 28 July Reply

    Dear Dr. Wong: I follow your postings and you have provided much needed information. I suffer from WMD in my right eye only – had injections for 2 years, had retina detachment in Jan, with subsequent surgery. I’ve had surgery for triple vision, it is down to double right now, and f/u with my surgeon next week. I am an RN and unable to work because of poor vision – I have 80 vision out of the eye and since the retina detachment, it has decreased. My WMD is stable, and since the surgery, have been told the injections won’t really last but a double of days. It has been extremely frustrating; reading information on your posts and educating myself has helped. I did get a work up by UCSF – they recommended trying the laser procedure, which I may pursue after all my surgeries are over. Thanks for being there for people like me. Bonnie RN

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 11:44h, 31 July Reply

      Dear Bonnie,

      Thank you for reaching out and keeping us up to date!

      Lots of luck and best wishes. I am sure you are in great hands!


  • floateredeyes
    Posted at 12:13h, 29 July Reply

    Dear Dr. Wong,

    Sorry for posting in the wrong topic but since I am on from mobile, cannot find FOV link.

    I’ve read that you perform non-pvd induced FOVs vitrectomies for floaters. How quickly can a PVD occur in the post-op time period? What are the risks this PVD will result in retinal tears, detachments, and even floaters? Since vitreous body has been removed, do you think this PVD is more dangerous with regards to creating tear in vitreous base around ora serrata ? Or less dangerous?

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 11:52h, 31 July Reply

      Dear Floateredeyes,

      A PVD may take decades to occur after vitrectomy. Because there is less vitreous, there should be less inertia to cause a PVD.

      I think the PVD is less likely to occur after vitrecomty, but if/when it eventually occurs probably has the same or less risk for retinal tears.


  • Sid
    Posted at 14:52h, 30 July Reply

    Is there a negative effect of taking vitamins?

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 11:29h, 31 July Reply

      Dear Sid,

      Remember that years ago, a certain eye vitamin ended up causing an increase in lung cancer. Vitamins do not have to undergo scrutiny by the FDA.


  • Justin
    Posted at 22:03h, 23 October Reply


    My father has AMD for several years now. He has been taking eye vitamins for a long time. I recently heard on the radio about a new vitamin that is supposed to be a lot better. It is also more expensive. It is called Macuhealth. Do you think the extra ingredient in this tablet is worth it for my father to take?

    Thanks for your answer.


    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 22:28h, 24 October Reply

      Dear Justin,

      Not sure I’d be too worried. If your father has intermediate or high risk factors for developing wet macular degeneration then I’d stick to the AREDS formulas…it’s the only one proven to reduce the risk of developing loss of vision from the wet ARMD.

      No proof that any of these vitamins leads to improvement of vision.


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