Find a Doctor Find a Doctor
Time to see a specialist?
Time to see a specialist?
We found [COUNT] Specialists
who treat [INTEREST]
near [LOCATION]
We found [COUNT] Specialists
who treat [INTEREST]
near [LOCATION]
[TELEHEALTH] offer Telehealth options.
More
Treating Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

This content is created by Healthgrades and brought to you by an advertising sponsor. More

This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the Healthgrades advertising policy.

A Guide to Supplements for Macular Degeneration

Medically Reviewed By Grace Zhang, MD

Supplements called AREDS2 can be an effective treatment for macular degeneration. However, the benefits of supplements for macular degeneration can vary per person and the condition’s stage. Treatment and supplementation options for macular degeneration or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) depend on the condition’s stage and type.

Talk with a doctor if you have questions about supplementation for AMD treatment.

This article discusses the types of supplements for AMD, including their benefits and risks.

Can vitamins and supplements help slow AMD?

Someone sits at a table with a pill organizer and a glass of water.
Photography by Pixel Stories/Stocksy United

AREDS Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source and AREDS-2 Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source supplements can help slow AMD progression and protect against further eye damage or vision loss.

These supplements are named after two significant long-term studies that researched their effectiveness:

  • Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS)
  • Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS-2)

However, AREDS and AREDS-2 supplements may not be effective Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source for all stages and types of AMD. They can help if:

  • you have intermediate AMD because they may slow or prevent progression to late AMD
  • you have late AMD in one eye because they may slow AMD development in the other eye

What are AREDS supplements?

AREDS supplements Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source contain high levels of vitamins and other nutrients that support eye health with AMD. They have:

  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • cupric oxide, a type of copper
  • zinc
  • beta carotene

According to a 2001 AREDS trial, taking AREDS supplements reduced the risk of developing late AMD by about 25% Trusted Source JAMA Peer reviewed journal Go to source over 5 years.

Advertisement
Advertisement

What are AREDS-2 supplements?

The AREDS-2 trials investigated an updated formula of the original AREDS supplements. Findings revealed the ingredients are very similar Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source .

AREDS-2 comprise:

IngredientAmount
Vitamin C500 milligrams (mg)
Vitamin E400 international units (IU)
Cupric oxide 2 mg
Zinc80 mg
Lutein10 mg
Zeaxanthin2 mg

The primary difference is that AREDS-2 supplements contain lutein and zeaxanthin instead of beta carotene. Beta carotene can increase the risk of lung cancer in people who have smoked.

What other supplements can help AMD?

A 2019 review notes that selenium and anthocyanins may also have positive effects on AMD. Selenium is a mineral high in foods such as Brazil nuts and seafood. Anthocyanins are antioxidants in red and purple fruits and vegetables, such as some berries, grapes, and red cabbage.

You can also buy selenium and anthocyanin antioxidants as over-the-counter (OTC) supplements. Still, more research is needed to confirm their safety, effectiveness, and best dosage.

Eating other nutrients that support eye health may also help slow AMD vision loss. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source and other experts recommend these foods:

  • leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, collard greens, and kale
  • oily fish, such as trout, mackerel, and sardines
  • beans, nuts, and seeds
  • fruit

Following a Mediterranean diet may help you include these foods.

Read more about how to follow a Mediterranean diet.

Taking multivitamins alongside AREDS and AREDS-2 supplements may be safe.

Be sure to talk with a doctor before starting new supplements, and tell them about the medications and supplements you already take.

Read more about AMD treatment options.

Which supplements are right for me?

Doctors typically recommend AREDS-2 over AREDS because the beta carotene in AREDS supplements may increase Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source lung cancer risk in people who have smoked.

AREDS-2 supplements contain lutein and zeaxanthin instead of beta carotene. This may make AREDS-2 supplements more effective with no link to increased cancer risks.

However, more research is needed to confirm the benefits of AREDS-2 over AREDS supplements.

If you are considering trying other supplements to help with AMD, talk with a doctor first.

Should I avoid taking any supplements?

AREDS, AREDS-2, and other supplements can contain high levels Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source of their nutrients. This can sometimes lead to side effects, interactions with other medications and supplements, and affect digestion.

Do not take supplements without talking with a doctor first, making sure they are up to date on your medications, supplements, and health conditions.

Also, avoid taking AREDS supplements if you have smoked. Instead, ask your doctor about AREDS-2 options and make sure they are aware of your smoking status.

Supplement safety

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Trusted Source Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Governmental authority Go to source does not regulate supplements strictly. Supplements available for purchase may not have been tested for safety, effectiveness, or accuracy of their claims.

For example, studies have reported that some products do not contain the right ingredients in the right amounts.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source also notes you cannot get the right combination of vitamins and minerals through food or by mixing regular vitamins and supplements. Only approved AREDS and AREDS-2 supplements can help AMD.

Always talk with a doctor before trying a new supplement, even if it is available over the counter. They can recommend options that may be safe and appropriate for you.

You can also check the nutrient label of an AREDS-2 supplement against the ingredients table above.

Summary

AREDS-2 supplements are a key treatment option for slowing the progression of intermediate AMD. However, supplements may not help every case or type of AMD.

Supplements are not consistently regulated in the United States and can cause complications if misused. Always talk with a doctor before using a supplement, even if it is available over the counter.

Was this helpful?
631

Medical Reviewer: Grace Zhang, MD
Last Review Date: 2024 Mar 21
View All Treating Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.