Supplementation and AMD: The Results of AREDS-2

Group of doctorsBack in 2001, researchers involved in the original AREDS (age-related eye disease study) reported that a formulation of vitamin c, vitamin e, beta-carotene, zinc and copper could reduce one’s risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. However, this formula received a few criticisms- primarily regarding its inclusion of potentially harmful beta-carotene. In fact, during the original AREDS trial, the National Cancer Institute confirmed that beta-carotene can increase lung cancer risk among smokers. Further, some wondered why the original AREDS did not research the efficacy of macular carotenoids or omega-3 in treating AMD.

More recently, (beginning in 2007) AREDS-2 commenced. AREDS-2 was initiated to discover whether adding omega-3 fatty acids, lutein or zeaxanthin would make the formula more effective in reducing the risk of wet macular degeneration. The follow up study was also meant to further investigate a safer, more effective alternative to beta-carotene.

Some of the AREDS-2 findings are summarized below:

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Participants who took a version of the AREDS formula which contained lutein and zeaxanthin instead of beta-carotene had a reduced risk of developing advanced AMD by 18% compared to those who took the AREDS formula with beta-carotene.

Further, participants with a low intake of L & Z at the start of the study who took a version of AREDS with L & Z instead of beta-carotene were 25% less likely to develop the disease.


Not only was beta-carotene deemed potentially dangerous for those who smoke, AREDS-2 also found that beta-carotene interfered with the absorption of lutein and zeaxanthin.


The study explored changing the dosage of zinc from the original formula. Results showed that there was no apparent difference in effect of the low-dose zinc on the progression to wet AMD.


AREDS-2 found no evidence that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids was beneficial for treating AMD.

Based on the study’s findings, the risks of beta-carotene and the possible benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin, researchers concluded that beta-carotene (and omega-3) should be removed from the AREDS-2 formula in favor of lutein and zeaxanathin.

It should also be noted that the AREDS trials did not include meso-zeaxanthin (in its converted form), arguably the strongest individual macular anti oxidant of the three. That said AREDS-2 has demonstrated that the inclusion of macular carotenoids (L&Z) in one’s diet lowers the risk for progression of AMD. Additionally, the formula would be improved with a combination of lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin in proportions for optimal absorption.

Proper nutrition can change the course of disease. Foods like bell peppers, corn, kale and other leafy greens contain carotenoids and can contribute to better eyesight. As for those who find maintaining a perfectly balanced diet difficult, taking a supplement containing a triple carotenoid formula is the best solution.

What did you take away from the AREDS trials?

4 thoughts on “Supplementation and AMD: The Results of AREDS-2

  1. My Macular Doctor suggest I take your product of antioxidants without the Zinc. The Current Vitamins used contain 20 mg Lutein and 800 mcg of Zeaxanthin in a rapid release soft gel. Your product as I view it at 75 dollars for a three month supply is quite out of the reach for my pocket at 86 years of age. What is the difference and I value your advise

    1. Hi Regina. First off, thanks for reading our blog and reaching out. The difference between your vitamins and MacuHealth is an ingredient known as meso-zeaxanthin. Meso-zeaxanthin, or MZ is imperative in slowing the progression of macular degeneration. In fact, it’s been clinically proven to increase macular pigment levels in as little as 6 months. Being that MZ is the only carotenoid found exclusively in the macula- it is the ‘key ingredient’ in the MacuHealth formula. (Other products do not contain MZ in it’s converted form.) If you have any other questions- don’t hesitate to ask! Remember- your eyesight is priceless!

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