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It's clear: Vitamins and minerals can slow vision loss

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July 25, 2022— Did you know that a daily regimen of dietary supplements can slow the advance of a leading cause of vision loss in older people?

That's the result of two long-term studies funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative disease of the retina, the light-sensitive area located in the back of the eye. The macular area of the retina normally provides clear central vision. With AMD, the retinal cells in the macula die off.

There are no symptoms of early AMD. In later cases, you'll see fewer details in the center of your vision. You may also see blurry or wavy areas when you look straight ahead.

A successful supplement

The new report tracked people who took a combination of antioxidant vitamins and minerals known as AREDS2. It contains:

  • Copper.
  • Lutein.
  • Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin E.
  • Zeaxanthin.
  • Zinc.

Overall, participants who took the AREDS2 supplements were about 25% less likely to develop advanced AMD over five years. For people who continued for 10 years, there was an additional 20% lower risk of AMD progress.

A safer combination

The AREDS2 supplement is a result of updates to the original AREDS supplements. Researchers substituted lutein and zeaxanthin for the beta-carotene in the original combination. Other studies had shown an increased risk of lung cancer for current or previous smokers who took beta-carotene.

The version with lutein and zeaxanthin was safe, as well as helpful.

About AMD

The AREDS2 supplements may help prevent AMD from getting worse. But there is no evidence that taking them can stop the condition before it develops.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), you may be at risk of AMD if you:

  • Are age 50 or older.
  • Eat a lot of saturated fats (meats, butter and cheese).
  • Are overweight.
  • Smoke.
  • Have high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Have a family history of AMD.

The best advice is clear:

  • See your eye doctor regularly.
  • Get early treatment, including vitamin therapy if your doctor recommends it.

You can learn more about ways to protect your vision in our Eyes topic center.

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