There is lots of talk these days about vitamins, supplements and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A variety of companies are pushing their product as the best on the market for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration, which can be confusing for patients. So let’s set the story straight with what works and what you need to take if you have a diagnosis of AMD.
The Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) published a report in 2001 stating that certain patients taking high doses of antioxidants and vitamins A, C & E had a lower risk of developing what we call “wet” AMD. Wet AMD occurs when blood vessels grow in through the underside of the retina and leak both fluid and blood, which causes a decrease in vision and potential blindness. The risk of developing “wet” AMD was reduced by 25% in patients using the vitamin supplements. The caveat to this is that only patients with “moderate risk” AMD or worse were enrolled in the study and the results may not apply to everyone.
Currently, AREDS2 is underway. This study is looking at the benefit of adding lutein/zeaxanthin in place of beta-carotene (Vitamin A), as well as omega 3 fatty acid supplementation in the form of fish oil. The results of this study will not be known for another 2-3 years. Many eye vitamins on the market are labeling their product as an “AREDS 2” formulation but again, the results of this study are not known.
So what is the best regimen to take at this time? I recommend the following:
v Vitamin C – 500 mg
v Vitamin E – 400 IU (international units)
v Lutein – 10 mg
v Zeaxanthin – 2 mg
v Zinc – 80 mg
v Copper – 2 mg
The lutein/zeaxanthin replaces the beta-carotene from the original AREDS study. There is an increased risk of lung cancer with vitamin A (or beta-carotene) use in smokers which is avoided with lutein. Additionally, I recommend omega 3 supplementation with either fish oil or flaxseed oil at 1000 mg per day.
Regardless of which formula you use, the most important thing to remember is the Amsler grid given to you by your doctor. This grid will help alert you to any changes in your vision, which you should notify your ophthalmologist about. Early treatment of wet AMD will prevent further vision loss.