There are many studies being done to look at whether certain vitamin and mineral supplements and combinations of supplements may help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or delay vision loss in people who already have it.
For example, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) is a major research effort by the
U.S. National Eye Institute. The first AREDS study found that supplementing your diet with high
levels of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene, called
antioxidants, and the mineral zinc may help slow the
progress of advanced
age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and delay
vision loss if you already have moderate or severe AMD.
There is no evidence that the supplements are helpful if you do
not have AMD or only have a mild form of the disease.1
In a study of male doctors who didn't have AMD, researchers found that taking vitamins E and C for up to 8 years, either alone or in combination, was not likely to affect whether or not a person got early AMD. This finding is consistent with other studies that looked at preventing AMD by using vitamins.2
If you're interested in taking a vitamin or mineral supplement, talk with your doctor about the risks. For example:
Remember that you can also get more vitamins from the foods you eat, especially fruits and vegetables.
American Academy of Ophthalmology (2008).
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Preferred Practice Pattern). San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology. Available
Christen WG, et al. (2012). Vitamins E and C and medical record-confirmed age-related macular degeneration in a randomized trial of male physicians. Ophthalmology, 119(8): 1642–1649.
Other Works Consulted
Drugs for some common eye disorders (2010). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 8(89): 1–8.
November 12, 2012
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
& Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
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