Should You Be Taking Vitamins for AMD?

Are these vitamins for you? Here’s who benefits the most and who shoujld be taking them.

Do you take vitamins for AMD?

The National Eye Institute conducted the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS2 to study both cataract and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study followed participants for five years and tested whether taking nutritional supplements (vitamins for AMD) could prevent or slow these two eye diseases.

AREDS Results

At the end of the five-year study, the scientists found that people at high risk for developing advanced AMD—those with intermediate AMD, and those with advanced AMD in one eye only—reduced their risk of developing advanced by about 25 percent when treated with the combination of antioxidants and zinc + copper. 

The AREDS formula also reduced the risk of central vision loss by 19% in the same group. None of the formulations decreased cataract risk.

Who Benefits the Most?

The study found that those who benefit most from taking vitamins for AMD are people at high risk for developing macular degeneration and who meet these two conditions:

  • Intermediate AMD in one or both eyes
  • Advanced AMD in only one eye

AREDS Vitamins for AMD

The AREDS 2 vitamins do not contain beta carotene because in the study researchers found that beta carotene in high amounts was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in current and former smokers.

You can purchase AREDS 2 vitamins or take the supplements separately. The following is the AREDS 2 formulation:

  •  Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 500 mg
  • Vitamin E 400 international units (IU)
  • Lutein 10 mg
  • Zeaxanthin 2 mg
  • Zinc (as zinc oxide) 80 mg 
  • Copper (as cupric oxide) 2 mg

Healthy Foods

Taking vitamins is just one step in creating a healthy environment for your eyes. Eating a healthy diet is an essential second step. Include lots of dark leafy greens, like spinach and kale, along with other colorful vegetables and fruits. Colorful vegetables and fruits provide a wide range of phytonutrients along with carotenoids that your body converts into vitamin A.  

Smoking puts you at a higher risk for AMD, so if you smoke, then stopping will be another step toward eye health.

Consult Your Doctor

Talk with your eye doctor about your primary care physician about how taking the AREDS or AREDS 2 vitamins will affect you.  

Nader Moinfar, M.D., M.P.H.
Retina Specialist
Orlando, FL

If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call us (877) 245.2020.

Vitamins for Macular Degeneration

There’s a lot of confusion about which vitamins are recommended for macular degeneration. The National Eye Institute has sponsored two studies over the past twenty years. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) concluded in 2001 and the AREDS2 study culminated in 2013.


The initial Age Related Eye Disease Study involved over 3600 patients, all of whom had at least early stages of macular degeneration. Patients without any evidence of macular degeneration (AMD) in either eye were not included.

AREDS was designed to determine the risk factors and progression of AMD and cataracts by testing the effects of high doses of anti-oxidants and zinc on the course of the disease.

The results of AREDS found that;

  • Patients at high risk for developing advanced macular degeneration reduced the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration by 25% when taking the AREDS formulation.
  • Beta-carotene, an anti-oxidant included in the original formulation, was associated with an increase in lung cancer in patients who smoked.
  • There was no effect on the development of cataract.


The AREDS 2 study was designed to determine if the original AREDS formulation could be improved by substituting lutein and zeaxanthin for beta-carotene and testing the effects of omega-3 fatty acids.

While the results did not show any benefit for those taking lutein and zeaxanthin, there was some evidence that these two anti-oxidants were beneficial in certain groups. AREDS 2 also determined that the removal of beta-carotene was not harmful, and, thus was a good formulation for smokers.

Omega-3 fatty acids has no known effect on the development or progression of AMD.

Vitamins for AMD

The two studies successfully identified an effective and safe formulation for those patients requiring the supplement.

It should be noted that the vitamins have been proven to reduce the chances of developing advanced macular degeneration in only those patients with intermediate or advanced risk factors (based upon the results of a dilated eye examination by your doctor) and who have the diagnosis of macular degeneration. In other words, the vitamins may prevent vision loss by about 25% in those at high risk.

The vitamins do NOT help patients regain lost vision from macular degeneration.

If you are considering your need for taking the AREDS 2 formulation, consult with your eye doctor or retina specialist.

Jon Doe