By Kierstan Boyd for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
People who have a certain form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may benefit from a specific mix of vitamins and minerals. Taking these nutritional supplements might help slow this eye disease.
About 8 out of 10 people with AMD have the dry form. This condition is due to a breakdown or thinning of the macula. Dry AMD usually begins when tiny, yellow deposits called drusen form under the retina. Eventually, the macula may become thinner and stop working properly.
Many people with AMD have drusen. These alone do not cause vision loss. But when drusen grow in size or number, you are at risk for getting early or intermediate AMD. There are not always symptoms with these stages of AMD, though people with intermediate AMD might start to notice a blurred spot in their central vision.
Advanced dry AMD develops when cells in your macula begin to break down or when wet AMD develops. This is when the blurred spot in your central vision starts getting bigger and darker. That is what robs you of your central vision.
Dry AMD and AREDS Vitamins
AREDS 2 (Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2) was a very large research study. It looked at taking vitamins and minerals daily for AMD. This study found that certain nutritional supplements could help some people who have a lot of drusen. These supplements may also lower risk of wet AMD and vision loss in the second eye of people who lost vision in one eye from AMD. Taking the following nutritional supplements every day may help these people lower their risk of getting late-stage or wet AMD:
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 500 mg
- Vitamin E 400 international units (IU)
- Lutein 10 mg
- Zeaxanthin 2 mg
- Zinc (as zinc oxide) 80 mg
- Copper (as cupric oxide) 2 mg
It is important to remember that nutritional supplements are not a cure for AMD but may help slow the disease in some people with certain forms of AMD. Your ophthalmologist can check your eyes to see if you may benefit from these supplements.
Should you take nutritional supplements for AMD?
Talk with your ophthalmologist about whether nutritional supplements are recommended for you. Here are some topics to discuss:
- Your chance of getting advanced AMD. Studies show that nutritional supplements might help people with early to intermediate AMD who are at risk for developing advanced AMD.
- Eye-healthy foods. Studies show that nutritional supplements alone are not enough to prevent or delay advanced AMD. You also should eat a healthy, balanced diet. This includes dark leafy greens (like spinach and kale) along with yellow, orange and other colorful fruits and vegetables. Eating fatty fish like salmon may also lower your risk of early or advanced AMD.
- Benefits and risks of nutritional supplements. Taking nutritional supplements can be helpful, but there can be possible health risks. Talk with your ophthalmologist and primary care doctor about how the vitamins and minerals listed above might affect you.