AREDS Formula for Ocular Nutrition

AREDS Formula for Ocular Nutrition

Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) Formula for Ocular Nutrition

The National Eye Institute division of National Institute of Health released this information.

“Antioxidant Vitamins and Zinc Reduce Risk of Vision Loss from Age-Related Macular DegenerationSame Nutrients Have No Effect on the Development of Cataract

Scientists found that people at high risk of developing advanced stages of AMD, a leading cause of vision loss, lowered their risk by about 25 percent when treated with a high-dose combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc. In the same high risk group — which includes people with intermediate AMD, or advanced AMD in one eye but not the other eye — the nutrients reduced the risk of vision loss caused by advanced AMD by about 19 percent. For those study participants who had either no AMD or early AMD, the nutrients did not provide an apparent benefit. The clinical trial — called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) — was sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the Federal government’s National Institutes of Health.

“This is an exciting discovery because, for people at high risk for developing advanced AMD, these nutrients are the first effective treatment to slow the progression of the disease,” said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NEI. “AMD is a leading cause of visual impairment and blindness in Americans 65 years of age and older. Currently, treatment for advanced AMD is quite limited. These nutrients will delay the progression to advanced AMD in people who are at high risk — those with intermediate AMD in one or both eyes, or those with advanced AMD in one eye already.

“The nutrients are not a cure for AMD, nor will they restore vision already lost from the disease,” Dr. Sieving said. “But they will play a key role in helping people at high risk for developing advanced AMD keep their vision.”

AREDS formula used in the study:

  • 500 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 400 international units of vitamin E
  • 15 milligrams of beta-carotene
  • 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide
  • 2 milligrams of copper as cupric oxide

(Copper was added to the AREDS formulations containing zinc to prevent copper deficiency, which may be associated with high levels of zinc supplementation)

An additional caveat here is: “Almost two-thirds of AREDS participants chose to take a daily multivitamin in addition to their assigned study treatment…”.

There were 4,757 participants; their ages were 55-80 from 11 different clinical centers nationwide in a seven year study.

Four treatments given:
1) zinc alone
2) antioxidants alone
3) a combination of antioxidants and zinc
4) a placebo

“The benefits of the nutrients were seen only in people who began the study at high risk for developing advanced AMD — those with intermediate AMD, and those with advanced AMD in one eye only. In this group, those taking “antioxidants plus zinc” had the lowest risk of developing advanced stages of AMD and its accompanying visual loss. Those in the “zinc alone” or “antioxidant alone” groups also reduced their risk of developing advanced AMD, but at more moderate rates compared to the “antioxidants plus zinc” group. Those in the placebo group had the highest risk of developing advanced AMD”

What about cataracts in this study: “In the cataract portion of the study, researchers discovered that the same nutrients had no significant effect on the development or progression of age-related cataract. Al of the 4 treatments above gave the same result.

However, Dr. Ferris noted that despite the evidence that these nutrients did not lower the risk of cataract development. That an effect over a longer period of time, or with different doses of these or other antioxidants, cannot be ruled out.

Here were the side affects:

  1. 7.5 % assigned to the zinc treatments: had urinary tract problems that required hospitalization. This was compared to 5 % who did not have zinc in their assigned treatment.
  2. Other zinc related affects: anemia at a slightly higher rate; however, testing of all patients for this disorder showed no difference among treatment groups.
  3. Yellowing of the skin, a well-known side effect of large doses of beta-carotene, was reported slightly more often by participants taking antioxidants.

This study released in 2001 sparked the high interest in Ocular Nutrition and eye vitamins.


National Eye Institute Press Release

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