Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the decrease in vision caused by the progressive deterioration in retinal function in senior patients. It is commonly classified into either the slowly progressive "dry" form, or the more rapid "wet" form. Treatments are different for each form. There have been many recent advances in the treatments of each such that the prognosis has improved greatly. A dilated eye examination can better clarify the level and type of macular degeneration for each patient.
The Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) concluded that certain antioxidants (vitamin C 500mg, Vitamin E 400IU, Beta Carotene 15 mg, Zinc oxide 15 mg, and copper oxide 2 mg) reduced the progression of intermediate and advanced forms of AMD. It did not reverse the current damage of AMD. Unfortunately, beta-carotene was shown in a Nation Cancer Institute Study to increase the risk of lung cancer in patients that smoke. Consequently, many doctors do not recommend AREDS vitamins for smokers.
Most multivitamins that are commercially available contain many more vitamins and minerals than those studied in the AREDS. The dosage levels of these vitamins are usually at the minimum daily requirements as recommended by the FDA which is substantially lower that the levels of AREDS. Many of the patients in the AREDS were also on multiple vitamins during the study. Therefore, taking a multivitamin is OK for all patients with or without macular degeneration. All patients should check with their doctor before starting any new therapy or supplement.