The important Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), conducted by the National Eye Institute a decade ago, found that one formula (500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, 15 milligrams of beta carotene, 80 milligrams of zinc and 2 milligrams of copper) can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in many people who have been diagnosed with it. Copper was included in the AREDS formula because high doses of zinc can lead to copper-deficiency anemia.
The formula was originally marketed by Bausch & Lomb (as PreserVision), but is now made by other companies as well. Several studies have confirmed that this formula can help save vision in people with AMD. An ongoing second AREDS study is testing omega-3 fats, lutein and zeaxanthin in people with AMD, along with formulas with less zinc and no beta carotene.
. . . and for those whose eyes are still healthy?
There’s no evidence that the AREDS formula helps prevent AMD—it is usually recommended only for people who already have the disorder. Still, if you’re at high risk for AMD (because a parent had AMD, for instance), you should discuss the AREDS formula with an eye-care specialist. The AREDS study found that the formula had no effect on the development or progression of cataracts.