Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), conducted by the
U.S. National Eye Institute (NEI), found that supplementing your diet with high
levels of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, called
antioxidants, and the mineral zinc may help slow the
progress of advanced
age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and delay
vision loss if you already have moderate or severe AMD.
There is no evidence that the supplements are helpful if you do
not have AMD or only have a mild form of the disease.1
The study showed the largest benefit for people
who had already begun to develop AMD (intermediate AMD) in one or both eyes or
who had advanced AMD in one eye. In these groups, the risk of developing
advanced AMD or of developing AMD in the other eye was reduced by about 25%.
The chance of developing vision loss from advanced AMD was reduced by about 20%
in those taking the vitamins and zinc supplements.
may be some benefit from taking the vitamins alone or the zinc alone, the
greatest benefit was seen in those who took both.
The study did not
find any significant benefit from the supplements in people who had only
the early signs of AMD.
The study found that taking the supplements
did not prevent the development of AMD and did not help improve vision already
lost from AMD.
If you have intermediate AMD, or advanced AMD in one eye,
talk to your doctor about whether you may benefit from vitamin and
mineral supplements. Keep in mind that high doses of these supplements can
cause problems. So follow your doctor's recommendations carefully.
Q: My mother, 63, recently learned she has early signs of age-related
macular degeneration. What can she do to preserve her eyesight? Would certain
nutritional supplements help?
A: Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the most common of all
retinal disorders (damage to the eye's retina) and the leading cause of
irreversible vision loss in older adults.
Researchers have identified both hereditary and environmental factors.
Although you can't change your genes, you can help preserve...
Get vitamins from your diet. Eat lots of fresh
fruits and dark green, leafy vegetables (such as spinach and collard greens).
High doses of zinc are linked to copper deficiency. If you take
zinc, you may also need to take a copper supplement.
smoke or who used to smoke should not take beta-carotene. Studies have shown a
higher incidence of lung cancer in people who smoke and take
High doses of vitamin A may be linked to liver
problems and bone fractures.
In women who have heart disease, high
doses of vitamins C and E may make heart conditions worse.
American Academy of Ophthalmology (2008).
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Preferred Practice Pattern). San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology. Available
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Steven T. Charles, MD - Ophthalmology
July 20, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
July 20, 2011
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