Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS)
Scientists have long debated whether taking vitamin and/or mineral supplements could help prevent, treat, or cure certain eye conditions. Some early scientific studies seemed to show that supplements had the potential to prevent or slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), although a more complete study was needed. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) was a major recent study sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the Federal government’s National Institutes of Health. AREDS involved 11 major medical centers around the country. In the study, scientists looked at the effects of zinc and antioxidants on patients with varying stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The results of AREDS 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).
- Supplements do not provide significant benefit to patients with minimal AMD, nor do they improve vision already lost to AMD.
- 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 that required hospitalization. Some patients taking large doses of antioxidants experienced some yellowing of the skin. The long-term effects of taking large doses of these supplements are still unknown.
Should I Take Nutritional Supplements?
If you have intermediate (or advanced AMD in one eye only), talk to your physician about taking nutritional supplements to determine if nutrients will benefit you. The doses used in the study were:
- Vitamin C 500 mg/day (contraindications include kidney stones and use of coumadin)
- Vitamin E 400 IU/day (associated with fatigue, muscle weakness, decreased thyroid function and risk of hemorrhagic stroke)
- Beta-carotene 15 mg/day (associated with yellow skin)
- Zinc 80 mg/day, as zinc oxide (associated with anemia, and upset stomach)
- Copper 2 mg/day, as cupric oxide (copper should be taken with zinc, because high dose zinc is associated with a copper deficiency)
It is very important to talk with your physician before taking large doses of supplements, and to follow his dosage recommendations carefully. Some supplements may interfere with each other or other medications. Smokers and ex-smokers probably should not take beta-carotene, since studies have shown a link between beta-carotene use and lung cancer among smokers. More information on AREDS is available from the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health, www.nei.nih.gov/amd.
Focus MaculaPro Eye Vitamins
The Retina Care Center recommends Focus MaculaPro eye vitamins. Focus MaculaPro adheres closely to the AREDS formulation. A smokers formulation with Lutein is also available.
FOCUS MaculaPro eye vitamins are produced by Covalent Medical LLC., a group of more than 400 retina specialists across the country that tapped their collective treatment experience and extensive research work to create a national brand dedicated to serving patients suffering from Macular Degeneration. For more information on this physician-recommended macula vitamin that is now available for purchase by the general public, please visit www.focusvitamins.com or ask your retina specialist at The Retina Care Center.