What Does AREDS Mean?

Published January 17th, 2024


The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and its follow-up study, AREDS2, were clinical trials sponsored by the NIH's National Eye Institute. They have provided valuable insights into the use of specific vitamin and mineral supplements in individuals with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The studies found that certain formulations of vitamins and minerals can help reduce the risk of advanced AMD and slow down its progression in certain individuals. However, it's important to understand the specifics and limitations of these findings:

Original AREDS Formula

The original AREDS formulation, consisting of high-dose antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene) and zinc, was shown to reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD by about 25% in individuals with intermediate to advanced stages of the disease. This formulation was effective for individuals with specific characteristics, such as a high risk of disease progression.

AREDS2 Formula

The follow-up study, AREDS2, aimed to refine the original formula by testing different variations. The study examined the effects of adding lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, or a combination of these to the original AREDS formulation. The study found that adding lutein and zeaxanthin, without beta-carotene, had similar effectiveness to the original formulation. Omega-3 fatty acids did not show a significant benefit in slowing AMD progression.

Subgroups and Progression Rates

It's important to note that the benefits of AREDS supplements may vary depending on individual factors. The studies found that the greatest benefits were observed in individuals with specific characteristics, such as those with intermediate AMD, those with one or both eyes already affected by advanced AMD, and those who did not have enough dietary intake of the nutrients included in the supplements.

Genetic Factors

Genetic variations can influence an individual's response to nutritional supplements. For example, certain genetic variations related to antioxidant and zinc metabolism have been identified as potential factors affecting the response to AREDS supplements.

Disease Severity

AREDS supplements have been primarily studied in individuals with intermediate to advanced stages of AMD. The evidence supporting their effectiveness in early-stage or non-advanced AMD is less conclusive. Despite this, most physicians recommend AREDS vitamin supplements to those with early-stage AMD or even anyone over the age of 40 who is concerned about AMD.

It's essential to consult with an eye care professional or healthcare provider to determine if AREDS eye supplements are suitable for your specific situation. They can evaluate your eye health, consider your risk factors, and provide personalized recommendations based on the latest scientific evidence and clinical guidelines. Regular eye examinations and discussions with your healthcare provider are crucial for monitoring and managing AMD.


Disclaimer: If you notice any changes in your vision, consult an eye care professional immediately for a comprehensive evaluation. This blog post is intended for informational purposes and should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider for any concerns about macular degeneration or eye health.