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Which supplements help prevent macular degeneration?

Dariush Mozaffarian, MD
Internal Medicine
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that the following combination of vitamins and minerals may help protect against advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Copper is added to the mix because high levels of zinc may cause copper deficiency:
  • 500 mg vitamin C
  • 400 IU vitamin E
  • 15 mg beta carotene
  • 80 mg zinc
  • 2 mg copper (cupric oxide)
Jeffrey S. Heier, MD
Ophthalmology
Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that the following combination of antioxidants and zinc may help protect against advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) -- a serious disease that can steal a person's central vision. (Copper is added to the mix because high levels of zinc may cause copper deficiency.)
  • Vitamin C: 500 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin E: 400 international units (IU)
  • Beta carotene: 15 mg
  • Zinc: 80 mg
  • Copper (cupric oxide): 2 mg
Evidence also suggests that certain nutrients help prevent macular degeneration. Middle-aged and older people may benefit from diets rich in fresh fruits and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach or collard greens. AREDS reported that for people at high risk of developing advanced stages of wet AMD, high-dose combinations of antioxidant vitamins and minerals lowered risk by about 25%. The supplements provided no apparent benefit for people who had either no AMD or early AMD. Ask your doctor about taking such supplements if you have intermediate or advanced dry or wet AMD.
The Age-Related Disease Study (AREDS) formula is a specific, high-potency supplement that may slow progression in people with intermediate or early-advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). However, it is not recommended for people who have not been diagnosed with AMD. Studies have found that eating fruits and deeply colored vegetables such as red peppers, kale, and spinach -- sources of antioxidants -- provides many health benefits. One is likely to be a reduced risk of AMD. Also, if you smoke, you should quit, because smoking can damage your eyes as well as many other parts of your body. Just as important are regular visits to an ophthalmologist, who can monitor your eye health and detect any signs of eye disease early on, should it develop. As with any disease, the sooner your doctor can intervene, the better your chances for a good outcome.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.