In 2001, researchers with the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) reported that a nutritional supplement called the AREDS formulation can reduce the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The original AREDS formula contains vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper. The main conclusion of the study was that supplementation with the AREDS formulation decreases the rate of progression to advanced AMD by 25% at 5 years.
In 2006, researchers began a second study called AREDS2 to see if they could improve on the original AREDS formulation. They investigated the addition of omega-3 fatty acids as well as the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. The AREDS2 study found that omega-3 fatty acids did not have any beneficial effect. Lutein and zeaxanthin appeared to be a safe and effective alternative to beta-carotene, which is known to increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
The current recommended AREDS2 formulation is:
- Copper 2 mg
- Lutein 10 mg
- Zeaxanthin 2 mg
- Vitamin C 500 mg
- Vitamin E 400 IU
- Zinc 80 mg