Can Vitamins Prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Because there is currently no cure, scientists have been eager to find new ways to help people who are genetically predisposed to develop AMD. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) in 2001 and a follow-up study, AREDS2 in 2006, have helped researchers discover that certain vitamins may reduce the risk of AMD by up to 25%.
The original study showed that a mixture of vitamins, including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and zinc, reduced the risk of advanced AMD by about 25% over a five-year period.
Because of the increased risk of lung cancer in smokers who take beta carotene supplements, investigators conducted a follow-up study, AREDS2, to test the effectiveness of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are similar antioxidants to beta carotene.
The result is that we now have a scientifically-tested vitamin combination that is safer for former smokers to use, and that still reduces the risk of advanced AMD by up to 25%.
If you want to learn about the AREDS studies in more detail, you can read the National Eye Institute’s information about AREDS2.
If you’re at risk for AMD, it’s important to seek a professional medical opinion about whether vitamin supplementation is right for you. Vitamins can have side effects, can be rendered ineffective by DNA, diet, or lifestyle, and can even (as with former smokers in the AREDS study) raise the risk of certain cancers.
The newest development is that there’s now a way for eye doctors to use DNA testing to tailor vitamin formulations to each patient’s genetic situation! Read more about the VitaRisk™ DNA test.