Nutrition and Eye Health

There is ample evidence that demonstrates the benefits of having a healthy diet and supplement intake in eye health. Evidence of a beneficial effect of nutritional supplements for eye health has mostly come from a multicentre, randomised, placebo-controlled trial called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).

Results from AREDS have shown that a combination of high dose antioxidants including Vitamins C and E, betacarotene, zinc and Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is beneficial for maintaining eye health and preserving vision. In particular, it has the potential of reducing the relative risk of developing advanced macular degeneration by 25%. The study also found that those who ate fish and had high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets, as well as those who had high intakes of dark leafy green vegetables, which are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, appeared to derive benefit.

fruitAREDS formulation for the treatment of macular degeneration includes:

- 500 mg Vitamin C
- 400 IU Vitamin E
- 15 mg Beta-carotene
- 80 mg Zinc
- 2 mg Copper

Results from the new AREDS2 study were released at an international Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting in May this year. The study was specifically designed to examine the addition of lutein and zeaxanthin to the AREDS formulation, as well as reducing the amount of zinc and removing beta-carotene. There had been some concerns in the original AREDS trial that the dose of zinc was too high, and that beta-carotene might not be necessary.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that function as antioxidants in the retina and thought to offer a protective role against the progression of AMD. In the new AREDS2 study, lutein and zeaxanthin instead of beta-carotene were associated with a 10%-18% reduced progression to advanced AMD over the 5-year period. Another interesting finding from the new trial was that omega-3 fatty acids did not have any additional benefit.

The highlight of this large study is that there is no current recommendation to add omega-3 fatty acids for the purposes of slowing down the progression to advanced age-related macular degeneration. It is however important to note that there are other health benefits to omega-3 fatty acids and fish in the diet.

VitaminAREDS2 formulation for the treatment of macular degeneration includes:

- 500 mg Vitamin C
- 400 IU Vitamin E
- 15 mg Beta-carotene
- 80 mg Zinc
- 2 mg Copper
- 10 mg Lutein
- 2 mg Zeaxanthin

Please speak with your Doctor regarding supplements that are formulated to recommendations of the new AREDS2 trial.