Treatment of Macular Degeneration with Supplements
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease of the macula, the small part of the eye’s retina that is responsible for our central vision.
This condition affects both distance and close vision and can make some activities like threading a needle or reading very difficult or impossible. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over the age of 50.
Many people with AMD have deposits under the retina called drusen. Drusen alone usually do not cause vision loss, but when they grow in size or number, there is an increased risk of developing advanced AMD. People at risk of developing a late stage of AMD may have a large amount of drusen or they may have abnormal blood vessels growing beneath the macula.
How can vitamins and minerals affect AMD?
A scientific study called AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) has shown that some antioxidant vitamins and zinc may reduce the impact of AMD in some people.
More than a decade after the first Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) showed that taking daily doses of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper slows down the progress of age-related macular degeneration, a second study (AREDS 2) has revealed that the risk of developing advanced AMD was further reduced by replacing the beta-carotene with lutein and zeaxanthin, which are naturally occurring carotenoids found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and yellow carrots, peppers and other colorful green leafy vegetables.
AREDS 2 found that people at higher risk for late-stage macular degeneration who followed a daily dietary supplement of vitamins C and E and Lutein and Zeaxanthine, along with zinc and copper, had a significantly lower risk of the disease progressing to advanced stages. The same treatment did not appear to achieve the same results among people without AMD, or within the first stages of the disease.
The daily dose of nutritional supplements used by AREDS 2 that proved to be beneficial contain:
- Vitamin C (500 mg)
- Vitamin E (400 IU)
- Lutein (10 mg)
- Zeathanthin (2 mg)
- Zinc oxide (80 mg);
- Copper oxide (2 mg, to prevent the loss of copper associated with zinc supplements).
The levels of antioxidants and zinc that were shown to be effective in slowing AMD’s progression cannot be consumed through your diet alone. These vitamins and minerals are recommended in specific daily amounts as supplements to a healthy, balanced diet, to benefit the health of people with minimal presence of AMD, or those without evidence of macular degeneration.
Some people may prefer not to take high dosages of antioxidants or zinc for medical reasons. The AREDS study did not reveal any evidence that the treatment may be toxic. However, with the original AREDS formula, beta-carotene caused concern because it may increase the risk of developing lung cancer among smokers, or those who have quit smoking recently. Now, with AREDS 2, beta-carotene supplements can be avoided.
Should I take antioxidant vitamins for macular degeneration?
It is very important to remember that vitamin supplements are not a cure for AMD, nor will they restore vision you may have already lost from the disease. However, specific amounts of certain supplements do play a key role in helping some people at high risk for advanced AMD to maintain their vision. Talk to your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) to determine if you are at risk for developing advanced AMD and to learn if supplements are recommended for you.
- Anatomy of the Eye
- Diabetes and the Eye
- Diabetic Retinopathy – What is it and how is it detected?
- Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy
- Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR) – Video
- Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR) – Video
- Cystoid Macular Edema
- Vitreous Hemorrhage – Bleeding from diabetes (Video)
- Vitrectomy Surgery for Vitreous Hemorrhage (Video)
- Macular Edema
- Laser Procedures for Macular Edema (Video)
- Laser for Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy – PDR (Video)
- How the Eye Sees (Video)
- Dilating Eye Drops
- Dry Eyes and Tearing
- Eye Lid Problems
- A Word About Eyelid Problems
- Bells Palsy
- Blepharoptosis – Droopy Eyelids (Video)
- Dermatochalasis – excessive upper eyelid skin (Video)
- Ectropion – Sagging Lower Eyelids (Video)
- Entropion – Inward Turning Eyelids (Video)
- How to Apply Warm Compresses
- Ocular Rosacea
- Removing Eyelid Lesions
- Styes and Chalazion
- Twitches or Spasms
- Floaters and Flashes
- Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) for Glaucoma
- Glaucoma: What is it and how is it detected?
- Optical Coherence Tomography OCT – Retina & Optic Nerve Scan
- Treatment for Glaucoma
- Retinal Nerve Fibers and Glaucoma (Video)
- Open Angle Glaucoma (Video)
- Closed Angle Glaucoma (Video)
- Visual Field Test for Glaucoma
- Glaucoma and Blind Spots (Video)
- Treatment for Glaucoma with Laser Iridotomy (Video)
- Laser Treatment for Glaucoma with ALT and SLT (Video)
- Surgical Treatment for Glaucoma with Trabeculectomy (Video)
- Surgical Treatment of Glaucoma with Seton (Video)
- Keeping Eyes Healthy
- Laser Vision Correction
- Latisse for Eyelashes
- Macular Degeneration
- Macular Degeneration – What is it and how is it detected?
- Treatment for Macular Degeneration
- Dry Macular Degeneration (Video)
- Wet Macular Degeneration (Video)
- Treatment of Macular Degeneration with Supplements
- Treatment of Wet Macular Degeneration with Anti-VEGF Injections
- Amsler Grid – A home test for Macular Degeneration (Video)
- Living with Vision Loss
- How the Eye Works – The Macula (Video)
- Other Eye Conditions
- Central Serous Retinopathy
- Lattice Degeneration of the Retina
- A Word About Other Eye Conditions
- Carotid Artery Disease and the Eye
- Fuch’s Corneal Dystrophy
- Herpes Simplex and the Eye
- Herpes Zoster (Shingles) and the Eye
- Ischemic Optic Neuropathy
- Macular Hole
- Macular Pucker
- Microvascular Cranial Nerve Palsy
- Migraine and the Eye
- Optic Neuritis
- Pseudotumor Cerebri
- Retinal Vein Occlusion
- Retinitis Pigmentosa
- Retinopathy of Prematurity
- Thyroid Disorders and the Eye
- Vitreomacular Adhesions / Vitreomacular Traction Syndrome
- Red Eye
- Refractive Errors
- Retinal Tears and Detachments
This Patient Education Center is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is NOT intended to provide, nor should you use it for, instruction on medical diagnosis or treatment, and it does not provide medical advice. The information contained in the Patient Education Center is compiled from a variety of sources. It does NOT cover all medical problems, eye diseases, eye conditions, ailments or treatments.
You should NOT rely on this information to determine a diagnosis or course of treatment. The information should NOT be used in place of an individual consultation, examination, visit or call with your physician or other qualified health care provider. You should never disregard the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider because of any information you read on this site or any web sites you visit as a result of this site.
Promptly consult your physician or other qualified health provider if you have any health care questions or concerns and before you begin or alter any treatment plan. No doctor-patient relationship is established by your use of this site.