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. A number of manufacturers offer nutritional supplements based on these studies.
In 2001, NEI reported the results of the first AREDS study: high levels of antioxidants and zinc could slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The original AREDS formulation contains vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper.
In 2013, NEI reported the results of the follow-up study, called AREDS2. The AREDS2 formula studied vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids and a lower amount of zinc.
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.
For all of the NEI information on this topic, please visit the following webpages:
Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2)
AREDS2 Questions and Answers for the Public
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)