AREDS: Supplements for Macular Degeneration

AREDS: Supplements for Macular Degeneration


Is “more” better when it comes to supplements for macular degeneration?

A recent case study (link below) suggests there is no added benefit.

Since the release of the AREDS study Optometrists and ophthalmologists have been suggesting a combination of supplements for those patients with risk of advancing age related macular degeneration, also known as ARMD, or AMD.

AREDS (2001) results showed a decrease in risk of progression by 25% when supplements were taken.

AREDS2 (2013) showed us that it would be beneficial to refine the to decrease risks associated with beta-carotene and high levels of zinc (both found in AREDS 1 formula).  AREDS 2 results were released in 2003, and most practitioners changed their recommendations accordingly – namely, a decreased level of zinc is just as beneficial, and replacing beta-carotene with lutein and zeaxanthin works as well, and lowers risk for side effects.

What is the original AREDS formulation?

  • 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
  • 400 international units of vitamin E
  • 15 mg beta-carotene
  • 80 mg zinc as zinc oxide
  • 2 mg copper as cupric oxide

What changes were tested in AREDS2? (C, E, and copper were unchanged)

  • 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin
  • 1000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (350 mg DHA and 650 mg EPA)
  • No beta-carotene
  • 25 mg zinc

Final AREDS2 Formula.

  • 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
  • 400 international units of vitamin E
  • 10 mg lutein
  • 2 mg zeaxanthin
  • 25 mg zinc
  • 2 mg copper

There is some controversy in the medical community of the safety and efficacy on having zinc in the formula for everyone.  A study showed some increased relative risk for a subset of the population – it appears that a portion of the population in the original study, actually showed progression of AMD because of zinc.  This risk is defined by genetic markers, and those at risk from harm (from zinc supplements) accounted for at least 13% of the population.

Because of this, your eye doctors at Blacksburg Eye highly recommended taking a zinc-free formula, or no formula at all, and just eat ‘eye smart’ until you get tested to see if you’re at risk of progression because of the risk.

A simple cheek-swab genetic test can give you your AMD-related genetic profile and let you and your doctor determine which supplement, if any, is right (and safe!) for you.

We’re happy to offer this service at Blacksburg Eye, and we offer it to all of our patient with signs of macular degeneration.  This take only a few minutes, and can be done at your appointment.

If you have questions or would like to make an appointment to discuss these and other eye health related issues, call today.  (540)953-2020





Study : Link :

More information from The National Eye Institute on AREDS2: Link :

Macular Degeneration Association Issues Warning:!


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