AREDS Formula Eye Vitamins
Many types of eye vitamins are available. When you have Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), most doctors recommend that you take an AREDS2 formula vitamin. AREDS stands for the Age Related Eye Disease Studies, a pair of clinical studies that were completed in 2001 and 2013 by the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the government’s National Institutes of Health.
What Are the AREDS Studies?
The first AREDS study was groundbreaking. It showed for the first time that it’s possible to reduce the risk of progression of AMD. The NEI researchers proved that taking a high-potency antioxidant and zinc supplement reduced the risk of AMD progression and vision loss in people with intermediate to advanced AMD—people who were at high risk of progression. In a follow-up, the researchers found that the benefits still persisted 10 years later.
The supplement that the researchers had tested was the original Bausch + Lomb PreserVision formula, and it’s now known as the AREDS formula.
In 2013, the NEI completed a second clinical study, AREDS2. They wanted to find out if they could improve on the AREDS nutrient formula by replacing the antioxidant beta-carotene, which can increase the risk of cancer in smokers and former smokers. They replaced the beta-carotene with the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Although many formulas were tested, based on the results of the AREDS2 study the National Eye Institute recommends a specific combination of nutrients to help reduce the risk of progression of moderate to advanced AMD.
AREDS2 Formula Vitamins vs Multivitamins vs Healthy Diet
You might be wondering why you can’t just eat lots of spinach or take a multivitamin—after all, most multivitamins, contain the same nutrients as the AREDS2 formula—and more. The answer is no.
It’s important to eat a diet rich in dark leafy greens and colorful produce, but it’s almost impossible to get as much nutrient power as you need through diet alone.
Multivitamins may contain some of the nutrients found in the AREDS2 formula but not at the same levels that were proven to help reduce the risk of moderate to advanced AMD progression.
The AREDS2 formula contains much higher doses of certain vitamins and minerals than diet or multivitamins alone, in a carefully balanced combination.
Eating a healthy diet designed for people with macular degeneration is important, since it also helps your guard against or manage chronic diseases that are linked to AMD. For the same reason, even if you’re taking an AREDS2 supplement, you might want to continue taking a multivitamin.
What Are the Benefits of the AREDS2 Formula?
AREDS2 formula vitamins contain a specific combination of nutrients that benefit people with moderate to advanced AMD in a number of ways.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Sometimes called “eye vitamins,” these nutrients are the red, yellow and orange pigments that concentrate in the macula at center of your retina, keeping your central vision sharp.
How does it benefit the eyes? As we age, inflammation and wear and tear in the retina create free radicals that can damage cells in the eye if they go unchecked. Because lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants, they help neutralize those free radicals and help prevent cell damage. In the macula, these pigments also filter out the UV rays that create free radicals.
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, disarming free radicals throughout the body.
How does it benefit the eyes? Vitamin C is in all the tissues of the eye, where it helps build and maintain connective tissue. As an antioxidant, it counters inflammation, which may be linked with AMD.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant. Research shows that natural vitamin E—the “d” forms such as d-alpha tocopherol—is especially important for good vision.
How does it benefit the eyes? Like other antioxidants, vitamin E disarms free radicals so they cannot wreak havoc on your cells.
Zinc is one of the most abundant trace mineral in your body. (It’s called a trace mineral because the body needs so little.)
How does it benefit the eyes? Among other things, zinc helps your body absorb, transport and use vitamin A.
Copper is an essential trace element found in high concentration in the retina.
How does it benefit the eyes? It is required for visual process and maintenance of normal ocular function.