AREDS 2 trial of vitamins and minerals for macular degeneration

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The AREDS 2 trial of vitamins and minerals for macular degeneration (MD) prevention was published in 2013. The research shows that some groups of people given a special treatment with high-dose vitamins and minerals had a significantly reduced risk of developing macular degeneration.

There were two main groups who benefited, patients with MD in one eye already and people with a retinal condition called drusen. Drusen are yellow dots under the retina and if present in large
numbers are risk factors for MD. You may not be aware if you have these, but your optician may have seen them. The AREDS 2 treatment is a supplement of antioxidant plant pigments Lutein and Zeaxanthin, vitamins C & E and the minerals zinc and copper. When high risk patients take these supplements the risk of developing MD is reduced by 25%.

The daily supplements recommended by AREDS 2 trial were:
• Lutein 10mg
• Zeaxanthin 2mg
• Vitamin C – 500 mg
• Vitamin E – 400 IU or 268mg
• 25 – 80 mg Zinc Oxide
• 2 mg Copper Oxide (only necessary with higher zinc dose)

AREDS doses of vitamins and zinc are much higher than in most multi-vitamins pills. AREDS 2 showed that if Zinc was reduced to 25mg per day it was equally effective. So, if 80mg of zinc upsets
your stomach, you may take less. The AREDS 2 formula has been scientifically proved to help prevent MD. Generally there is no problem taking both AREDS 2 and multivitamins.

As with all medicines and supplements, there are some people who get side effects. Vitamin A has been removed from the formula because of the increased risk of lung cancer in smokers and those
who had recently quit. Lutein & Zeaxanthin have not shown this problem. Vitamin A may prevent Lutein and Zeaxanthin being absorbed. Lutein & Zeaxanthin helped people most whose diet was poor in green vegetables.

Stopping smoking alone, reduces the risk of MD by 25%
Fish oils (omega 3 fatty acids) have now NOT been shown to produce any benefit in preventing MD.
Some of the brands available are listed below. Each contains the exact dose needed:

Some names are registered trade marks. The list is not exhaustive. Some preparations contain components which have no proven benefit. Check the doses carefully with this leaflet to make sure that you are getting the correct amounts. Your ophthalmologist will be able to give you more advice. Your GP may be able to prescribe one of these preparations.

Internet resources: