Vitamin & Mineral Ocular Nutrition and Your Eyes
AREDS or AREDS2
Scientists have long wondered whether taking vitamin and/or mineral supplements could help prevent, treat or cure certain eye conditions. Some early scientific studies show that ocular nutrition had the potential to prevent or slow the progression of cataract and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), or keep the condition from getting worse.
What is AREDS?
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) is a major study sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the Federal government’s National Institutes of Health, and conducted at 11 major medical center research facilities around the country.
In the study, scientists looked at the effects of zinc and antioxidants, and a combination of both, on patients with cataracts, and on those with varying stages and types of age related macular degeneration (AMD). They also studied patients without evidence of cataract or AMD to determine if zinc and/or antioxidants can prevent the development of these conditions.
What is the Dosage of the AREDS Eye Nutrition?
The specific daily amounts of antioxidants and zinc used by the study researchers were 500 milligrams of vitamin C; 400 International Units of vitamin E; 15 milligrams of beta-carotene (often labeled as equivalent to 25,000 International Units of vitamin A); 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide; and two milligrams of copper as cupric oxide. Copper was added to the AREDS formulations containing zinc to prevent copper deficiency anemia, a condition associated with high levels of zinc intake.
What Were the Results?
The study showed a number of important things:
- High levels of antioxidants and zinc can reduce the risk of vision loss from advanced AMD by about 19% in high-risk patients (patients with intermediate AMD or advanced AMD in one eye but not the other).
- This ocular nutrition do not prevent the development of AMD, nor do they improve vision already lost to AMD.
- Eye nutritional supplements do not seem to prevent cataracts, or keep them from getting worse over time.
Who Should Take the AREDS Ocular Nutrition?
People who are at high risk for developing advanced AMD should consider taking the combination of ocular nutrients used in the study. Dr. Jackson can tell you if you have AMD and are at risk for developing the advanced form of the disease. He will give you a dilated eye exam in which drops are placed in your eyes. This allows for a careful examination of the inside of the eye to look for signs of AMD.
Before taking these high levels of vitamin and mineral ocular nutrition, you should talk with Dr. Jackson about the risk of developing advanced AMD and whether taking the AREDS formulation is right for you.
Will Taking the AREDS Formulation Prevent Me from Developing AMD?
No. There is no known treatment that can prevent the development of AMD. The study did not show that the AREDS formulation prevented people from developing early signs of AMD. No recommendation has been made for taking the AREDS formulation to prevent early AMD.
Taking the eye nutrition reduced the rate of advanced AMD in people at high risk by about 25 percent over a 6-year period. We do not know if this treatment effect will persist over a longer period. However, by continuing to follow the AREDS participants, we hope to find out if the treatment effect will last longer than six years.
While most patients in the study experienced no serious side effects from the doses of zinc and antioxidants used, a few taking zinc alone had urinary tract problems. Some patients taking large doses of antioxidants experienced some yellowing of the skin. Smokers and ex-smokers probably should not take beta-carotene, as studies have shown an association between beta-carotene use and lung cancer.
We highly recommend the following AREDS and AREDS2 Vitamin and Mineral Supplements that are available over the counter at your local pharmacy:
The most advanced formula to help protect eye health. It is uniquely formulated to help replenish vital eye nutrients that can be lost as you age.
PreserVision AREDS 2 contains the exact levels of all six clinically proven nutrients now recommended by the National Eye Institute (NEI) to help reduce the risk of progression in people with moderate to advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This advanced ocular nutrition builds on the original, clinically proven PreserVision AREDS formula, with lutein and zeaxanthin replacing beta-carotene based on the NEI’s recent Age Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2)