NIH AREDS Lead to PreserVision Vitamins

NIH AREDS Lead to PreserVision Vitamins

NIH AREDS Lead to PreserVision Vitamins

Eye vitamins labeled as AREDS or AREDS2 refer to the results of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, a major clinical trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI) at the National Institutes of Health.  A number of manufacturers offer nutritional supplements based on these studies.

These studies reported that high levels of antioxidants and zinc could slow the progress of AMD. While the original AREDS formulation contained vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper, in 2013, NEI reported the results of the follow-up AREDS2 study, where researchers tried adding omega-3 fatty acids and substituting lutein and zeaxanthin for beta-carotene (which prior studies had associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers). The study found that while omega-3 fatty acids had no effect on the formulation, lutein and zeaxanthin together appeared to be a safe and effective alternative to beta-carotene. The AREDS2 formula now contains vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, lutein, zeaxanthin, and a lower amount of zinc. The AREDS formula that incorporates these vitamins isn’t a cure for AMD; however, it is extremely beneficial to anyone who has been diagnosed with intermediate or advanced AMD.

The AREDS and AREDS2 vitamins are neither a treatment nor a cure for macular degeneration. The studies showed that the formulations were most beneficial for people with:

  • Intermediate age-related macular degeneration in one or both eyes, or
  • Advanced age-related macular degeneration in one eye, but not the other eye

People with early stage age-related macular degeneration did not benefit from taking either AREDS formulation. AREDS does not prevent AMD from starting.

Researchers studied the following doses in AREDS and AREDS2:

  • 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
  • 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E
  • 80 mg zinc as zinc oxide (25 mg in AREDS2)
  • 2 mg copper as cupric oxide
  • 15 mg beta-carotene (AREDS), OR 10 mg lutein & 2 mg zeaxanthin (AREDS2)

People who smoke or have a history of smoking should avoid taking beta-carotene, also labeled as vitamin A. The AREDS2 formula with lutein and zeaxanthin is an alternative for people with a history of smoking. Lutein and zeaxanthin provide the eye the same benefits as beta-carotene without the health risks.

Before taking AREDS or AREDS2, talk to your primary care doctors and eye care professionals. They will help you determine if AREDS is best for you.