AREDS 2 Vitamins and AMD

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Over 11 million people are affected and this number is expected to double by 2050. Most patients have dry AMD which can lead to gradual loss of central vision, usually over many years. About 10% of patients with dry AMD will develop swelling or bleeding in the macula. These patients transitioned to wet AMD. It is a common perception among patients that wet AMD is ‘better’ since there are available treatments. Patients with wet AMD experience sudden increase distortion or even loss of central vision. Untreated, wet AMD can lead to rapid, irreversible loss of vision within weeks. When treated in a timely manner, wet AMD can revert back to dry AMD and remain in a relatively stable state with continued treatment. In short, wet AMD is not better to have than dry AMD since, when treated, wet AMD reverts back to dry AMD.

Dry AMD remains a disease without effective treatment. The main risk factors are age, ethnicity and family history. Dry AMD is more prevalent amongst Caucasians of European descent.

 


We can’t control our age or our race, however, we can control other risk factors for AMD.  Risk factors that we can control are:

  • smoking – increase both the risk and severity of AMD

  • obesity – regular exercise can lower the risks associated with AMD

  • hypertension

Patients with moderate or advanced dry AMD can benefit from taking AREDS 2 vitamins.   The National Eye Institute (NEI) AREDS 2 studies show that this vitamin can slow dry AMD progression by approximately 25%.  AREDS 2 vitamins contain:

  • 10 gm lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin

  • 500 mg vitamin C

  • 400 IU vitamin E

  • 25 mg zinc

  • 2 mg copper

This dose of vitamins is typically divided into 2 pills, each pill to be taken twice a day, along with a multivitamin.  There have been some concerns that the high levels of zinc may cause worsening of AMD in patients with AMD and CFH genotype.  The information leading to this concern has been deemed inconclusive.   The NEI expressed that the high dose (80 mg) of zinc had more potential benefit than risk, however, they have modified the recommended dose of zinc to the current 25 mg.

Please refer to the National Eye Institute website for further reading on the AREDS 2 Study.

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