Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS)

In an effort to determine if high doses of dietary supplements such as various antioxidants and zinc had any effect on the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, the National Eye Institute sponsored the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).  This study was designed to determine more information about the natural history and risk factors associated with age related macular degeneration and cataracts.

The Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) was a controlled clinical study that involved approximately 3,600 patients.  Each participant in the study was diagnosed with age related macular degeneration and each patient was at various stages of the disease.  Throughout the course of the study it was shown that antioxidant and zinc supplements introduced into the diet of patients could help slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), thus preventing the disease from progressing into the advanced stages.  This would aid in saving the patient’s vision.

AREDS found that taking high levels of antioxidants and zinc can reduce the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by about 25 percent.

During the course of the clinical study it was determined that the following would be the mixture of supplements added to the diets of those participating:

  • 500 milligrams of vitamin C;
  • 400 milligrams of vitamin E;
  • 15 milligrams of beta-carotene;
  • 80 milligrams of zinc; and
  • 2 milligrams of copper

Copper was added to the supplement to counter a condition commonly known as copper deficiency anemia that is associated with high levels of zinc intake.

It should be noted that the AREDS formulation is not a cure for age related macular degeneration.  This is just a treatment that was shown to reduce the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration by about 25 percent over the course of a six (6) year study.  The effects of this formulation beyond six-years in unknown but a second study is underway to determine the longterm viability of antioxidants and dietary supplements in preventing the advancement of age-related macular degeneration.  It should also be noted that this forumulation will not prevent anyone from developing age-related macular degeneration.

For more information on the Age-Related Eye Disease Study you can visit the National Eye Institute website.