Update from ARVO: Vitamin supplements for AMD

The long anticipated results of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) have recently been published and presented at the annual Association for Research into Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting in Seattle, USA by Dr Emily Chew of the National Eye Institute, chair of the study.

Many Irish people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) take supplements to slow down the progression of this disease and these supplements are sold under many different brand names. The aim of this complex study was to find out which combination of vitamins was the most effective by studying 4,000 Americans over five years.

The outcomes of this study suggest a simplification of the supplements recommended for individuals with AMD:

1) Beta-carotene is not an essential component of the formula and can be removed without reducing the effectiveness of the formula. This is particularly good news since the study showed that there was a higher risk of lung cancer in ex-smokers who took the AREDS formulation that included beta-carotene.

2) Taking lutein and zeaxanthin instead of beta-carotene was shown not to hurt, and was particularly beneficial to people who had a poor diet and were low in these nutrients.

3) Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA were shown to have neither a positive nor a negative effect. Previous studies have shown that people who eat fish (a rich source of Omega-3) once a week have a lower prevalence of AMD. Therefore it may prevent the onset of AMD, but not its progression.

The updated recommended AREDS2 formula is the following and we would expect new versions of this formula to become available very soon on the market:


– 500 milligrams of vitamin C;

– 400 International Units of vitamin E;

– 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide;

– 2 milligrams of copper as cupric oxide

-10 milligrams lutein

– 2 milligrams zeaxanthin


Finally, it is always good to note that two important contributions to eye health are quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy diet. Smoking is a major contributor to AMD progression, the most important advice is to quit as soon as possible; this is more important than the vitamin intake. Also, eating a healthy diet rich in fruit vegetables and fish is good for your general health as well as your eyes.

For further information on the AREDS2 study or AMD, please contact us in the office on 01 709 3050 or email research@fightingblindness.ie, you can also download our AMD brochure here.


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