Understanding Vitamins for AMD

Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS)

In 2001, Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) researchers reported that a vitamin supplement called the AREDS formulation could reduce the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

In 2006, the same research group, based at National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute, began a second study called AREDS2. They wanted to determine if they could improve the AREDS formulation. They tested the following: adding antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids, removing beta-carotene, and lowering the dose of zinc.

AREDS 1

What is the original AREDS vitamin formulation?
-500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
-400 international units of vitamin E
-80 mg zinc as zinc oxide
-15 mg beta-carotene
-2 mg copper as cupric oxide

AREDS2

What modifications were tested in AREDS2 vitamins?
-10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin
-1000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (350 mg DHA and 650 mg EPA)
-25 mg zinc
No beta-carotene

Why did they change the AREDS2 formulation? Why add lutein/zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids? Previous studies had found that dietary intake of lutein/zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids is associated with a lower risk of developing advanced AMD.

Why eliminate beta-carotene? During the AREDS trial, two large trials funded by the National Cancer Institute found that beta-carotene may increase lung cancer risk among people who smoke. Lutein and zeaxanthin are in the same family of nutrients as beta-carotene and are believed to have important functions in the retina. Therefore, the researchers theorized that lutein/zeaxanthin might be a safer and possibly more effective alternative than beta-carotene.

Why reduce the vitamin zinc? Although zinc was found to be an essential component of the AREDS formulation in the original trial, some nutritional experts recommended a lower dose.

You can buy AREDS2 formula eye vitamins at all of The Optical Gallery locations at The Eye Associates.