The Latest on Vitamins for Macular Degeneration and Cataracts

AREDS2: Most Recent Results on the Use of Vitamins and Their Effect on Cataract and Age-relate Macular Degeneration

This study was proposed because of the increasing prevalence of both age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts in the United States.  Both conditions have become major health issues impacting the overall cost of medical care. There has been a lot of hype to find out what vitamins help for these patients to possible reduce the prevalence of these diseases.

What is AREDS 2?

On May 5, 2013 the AREDS2 results were reported in Seattle, Washington at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) by The National Eye Institute.  This 5 year study looked at the effects of adding omega-3 and the antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, in different combinations with the original ingredients of the AREDS formula currently recommended for high risk AMD.  The objective of the study was to determine if a new formulary could be found that would be more beneficial for AMD and whether the new ingredients, or different combination of ingredients, could be beneficial against the development or progression of cataract.  Additionally, there were some adjustments within the AREDS formula to determine if there was a difference in the absorption of ingredients in the presence of others.

Do Vitamins Help ?

The final results showed that the addition of omega-3 did not improve the results of the AREDS formula for AMD; neither did the addition of lutein and zeaxanthin.  Further, the use of or non-use of lutein and zeaxanthin did not have any effect on the development and/or progression of cataract in the study group as a whole.  However, it was pointed out that in the original AREDS and another randomized study the use of multivitamins did appear to retard cataract formation, particularly in the less well-nourished population.

There was also noted in AREDS2 that the absorption of lutein and zeaxanthin was reduced in the presence of beta carotene.

The Final Word On Vitamins (For Now)

From the AREDS2 the final conclusion is that the AREDS formula continues to be the nutritional supplement of choice for those with high risk AMD, and that there has yet to be a good nutritional recommendation for the prevent of or retardation of age-related cataract. Smokers can not take beta carotene since it can increase their risk of lung cancer, there was some indication that these patients should take lutein as it might help in these patients.

If you would like more information on this study or about getting vitamins made to these new findings please contact one of our doctors at Sarasota Retina Institute at 941-921-5335.


Mel Chen, MD

Vitreo-retinal Surgeon 

Sarasota Retina Institute

Sarasota, Florida 

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