AREDS2 Study on Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Published on
March 1, 2022

There have been a number of studies trying to determine the best preventative treatments for different levels and forms of macular degeneration. The Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) was one such study. This study attempted to determine the efficacy of taking supplements to lower the risk of developing advanced forms of macular degeneration.


What is macular degeneration?

Age related  macular Degeneration is a degenerative eye condition that affects your macula, which is located at the central part of your retina. Also known as AMD, this disease can result in distortion and loss of central vision. There are two forms of macular degeneration; the dry form, which is the more common type, and the wet form, which is the more severe form of the condition, often resulting in a great amount of vision loss.


AREDS1 Study

The AREDS1 study was conducted over a period of several years, and it focused on evaluating the effects of various different supplements and antioxidants. It was found that smokers who consumed AREDS1 supplements, which contained beta carotene, had a much higher risk of developing lung cancer.


AREDS2 Study

The AREDS2 study removed beta-carotene and replaced it with Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Zinc. The study found that this new formulation, which contains high levels of these antioxidants, could reduce the risk of developing advanced forms of macular degeneration by 25% after five years. 


Why does Lutein and Zeaxanthin help with macular degeneration? 

Cells in the macula are damaged in macular degeneration. The study showed that when the macula had higher levels of these important antioxidants, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, cellular damage was reduced.  Therefore these antioxidants slow down and reduce the risk of developing the more severe forms of macular degeneration by preventing this oxidative damage of cells caused by UV light. Thus, it is highly recommended that you wear UV protection when you go outside in order to lessen the impact of UV rays on your eyes.


What supplements were incorporated in the study of AREDS2?

The AREDS2 final supplements include the following:

  • 500 milligrams of Vitamin C
  • 400 IU of Vitamin E
  • 2 milligrams of Copper
  • 10 milligrams of Lutein
  • 2 milligrams of Zeaxanthin
  • 80 milligrams of Zinc


Are AREDS2 supplements effective for all forms of macular degeneration?

The study found that these AREDS2 supplements were more effective for intermediate to more severe stages of dry macular degeneration. The AREDS2 supplements aren't as effective for the early stages of dry macular degeneration , nor do they prevent the onset of the disease. However these supplements were shown to reduce the progression of the disease in intermediate and advanced cases by 25% when compared to a placebo.. These supplements aren’t effective at all for the wet form of macular degeneration.

We recommend that patients with macular degeneration schedule an eye exam that includes imaging done with our Ocular Coherence Tomographer (OCT), an advanced retinal camera that can show us when to recommend that patients begin taking the supplements. 


Do antioxidants and zinc in your diet have the same effect as AREDS2 supplements?

It is true that eating foods containing these nutrients can benefit your eyes, but it is not comparable to the benefits the AREDS2 formula offers. It contains much higher doses of these nutrients than what one would consume from food alone. In order to slow down the progression of AMD, the AREDS2 supplement consists of specific amounts of ingredients that have been studied and measured to an exact dose.


What foods contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin? 

Traditional western diets do not contain enough lutein and zeaxanthin, which is why most eye doctors that specialize in macular degeneration will recommend supplements. However, adjusting your diet to include more of these antioxidants is always a good idea. 

  • Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and parsley
  • Broccoli, green peas, brussel sprouts, asparagus 
  • Salmon skin and trout 
  • Eggs 
  • Pistachios


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