Macular Degeneration Nutrition Treatments

Vitamin & Diet Recommendations for ARMD

Diet and Vitamin Recommendations for ARMD, Randall Wong, M.D. Retinal SpecialistWith the AREDS 2 study recently published, the recommendations for vitamin supplements have not changed.

AREDS 2 did not change any of the recommendations for changing diet or adding supplements.  While it didn’t lead to any discoveries, it did validate the original AREDS study.

Take the AREDS Formulation!

The original AREDS formulation contains;

  • Vitamin C, 500 milligrams
  • Vitamin E, 400 IU
  • Beta-Carotene, 15 milligrams
  • Zinc Oxide, 80 milligrams
  • Cupric Oxide, 2 milligrams

Note that there is no lutein in the formulation.

Some popular brands containing the AREDS formulation;

There are others made by other vitamin companies but they also sell products for which their is no scientific data on efficacy.  In general, look for the AREDS formulation.  Compare to the ingredient list above.

AREDS and Multivitamins

AREDS vitamins and multivitamins are different.  One is not a substitute for the other.  There are elements found in the AREDS formulation not found in the multivitamin.

Consult your physician if your are considering stopping or starting either vitamin.

You do not need vitamins based upon the AREDS 2 formulation.

What Does this Mean?

The new study confirmed the AREDS study released in 2006.

1.  Take AREDS vitamins, but only if you have intermediate or high risk for developing ARMD.  You’ll have to ask your doctor if you meet the criteria.

2.  Lutein is not necessary.

3.  The vitamins do NOT improve or prevent the development of macular degeneration.   They may, when indicated, prevent severe vision loss from the wet form of the disease.

4.  Omega 3 Fatty Acids have no direct effect on macular degeneration.


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




Macular Degeneration

From Fish to Nuts, Eating Right to Prevent Macular Degeneration

Eating more omega-3 polyunsaturated fat, such as that found in fish, may prevent the development of macular degeneration.  I have posted on this before.  No need to click back, but the highlights were;  eating one serving a week of fish, thereby increasing omega-3’s and decreasing foods containing linoleic acid (an unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid) decreased the incidence of macular degeneration!

The protective effect may be due to metabolites (by-products of what we eat) which lead to inflammation.  Inflammation has been implicated in the development of macular degeneration.  Eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the inflammation.

There may also be a benefit from eating nuts, too. Nuts have been show to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, too.  In fact, nuts showed a similar benefit to fish, as one to two servings per week were associated with a decrease in the development of the disease.

What does this mean? Without a doubt, there are going to be more recommendations about what we eat and reducing macular degeneration.  Remember that none of these findings have truly been tested per se, but these are noted associations when researchers reviewed the original AREDS data.


Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retinal Specialist

Macular Degeneration Nutrition

What About Vitamins?

What vitamins help macular degeneration?  I am asked this daily.  What should I take?  What should I eat?  What can I do?  The answer is simply………..I don’t really know.  The information about supplements, be they vitamins or foods, is really scarce.  I usually tell patients that my job is to report the hard data to you and not to promote remedies or pills which are unfounded.  I feel pretty strongly about this.  It is why western medicine is superior – most everything is tested (kind of like Google).

In 2001, a gigantic study was completed called the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).  It was unique in its size and scope.  It was a prospective study (vs. retrospective, prospective studies are better).  It was one of the first studies to show that dietary changes can influence as disease, in this case, macular degeneration.  Patients were examined for the development of macular degeneration while taking (aka the AREDS Formula); Vitamins C and E, Beta-carotene, zinc and copper.  The conclusions of the study;

1)  smokers should not take beta-carotene as it increases the chance of lung cancer,

2)  patients at moderate/high risk of AMD do benefit from the AREDS formulation supplements

Associated findings, but not conclusively studied;

1)  carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin (found in green leafy veggies such as spinach) were associated with decreased AMD in those patients that ate them in the beginning of the study, that is, these were not directly studied.

2) omega 3 fatty acids may be associated with reduced macular degeneration and cardiovascular disease.

What does this mean? The original study was limited in its findings, but several dietary associations were made, but not studied.  From this, we assume that eating green leafy vegetables/foods such as spinach, kale, eggs (yolks!), turnip greens, collard greens, etc., are good for you.  Similarly, omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish) are good for your eyes and possibly your heart.

A second large, prospective, study is underway.  AREDS2 will hopefully answer these questions; 1)  the value of beta-carotene in non-smokers, 2) the role of omega 3 fatty acids, 3) the value of carotenoids lutein/zeaxanthin.

Recommendations about Vitamins and ARMD

If your doctor determines that you have moderate or high risk factors in one or both eyes or you have lost significant vision in one eye from either “wet” ARMD or “geographic” ARMD, and you don’t smoke, you should take the AREDS formulation.

Thanks for reading,

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Retina Specialist/ Ophthalmologist

Verified by MonsterInsights