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Macular Degeneration Update

Two large, five-year clinical trials — the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS; 2001) and a follow-up study called AREDS2 (2013) have shown nutritional supplements containing antioxidant vitamins and multivitamins that also contain lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of dry AMD progressing to sight-threatening wet AMD.

Vitamins can help certain patients with age related macular degeneration decrease their risk of losing central vision. But it’s to find the right vitamins, since many are marketed for eye health but only a few have formulas that have proven effective.
The Age Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) showed that supplementation with certain micronutrients reduces by 25% the progression of dry AMD into the more advanced stage in which vision loss occurs. Beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin are types of phytochemicals (micronutrients from plants) called carotenoids, which are structurally related to vitamin A. Our bodies do not make these., plants do, in part to serve as antioxidants that protect them from potentially harmful sunlight.

"Protect your eyes by eating a healthy diet, exercise, stop smoking, and wear sunglasses."

When we eat lutein and zeaxanthin, they are transported to the retina, where they are thought to protect against light-induced damage. Foods such as egg yolk, yellow corn orange or yellow peppers, kale, broccoli, spinach, kiwi, grapes, zucchini, and squash have high levels of lutein and/or zeaxanthin and are thought to be protective against AMD. It’s important to take the AREDS2 vitamins if your ophthalmologist recommends them, in order to decrease the risk of vision loss from AMD. Buyer beware – a number of vitamins marketed for eye health do not contain the nutrient amounts stated on the label. The supplement industry is not regulated as stringently as the prescription drug industry. Be sure the label says AREDS2 formula.

AREDS2 contains:

  • Lutein 10 milligrams (mg)
  • Zeaxanthin 2mg
  • Vitamin C 500mg
  • Vitamin E 400IU
  • Zinc oxide 80mg or 25mg
  • Cupric oxide 2mg

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