Age-Related Eye Disease Study

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The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) was a clinical trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health in the United States.[1] The study was designed to

The study followed 3640 individuals for an average of 6.3 years between 1992 and 2001. The researchers concluded that high levels of antioxidants and zinc can reduce some people's risk of developing advanced AMD by about 25 percent.[1] Advanced AMD is defined as either choroidal neovascularization (wet macular degeneration) or atrophic age-related macular degeneration (geographic atrophy). The anti-oxidants and zinc supplements only reduced the risk of progression to wet macular degeneration. Those that benefited from the dietary supplements included those with intermediate-stage AMD and those with advanced AMD in one eye only. The supplements had no significant effect on the development or progression of cataracts. "High levels" in this case were defined to be:

The results were reported in the October 2001 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.[1]

Bausch & Lomb was a collaborator in the study.[2] They and other suppliers, provide supplements pre-packaged with formulations based on this study.

Studies in 2016[3] and 2018[4] have now shown that this average 25 percent reduction in risk from the combination of anti-oxidants and zinc varies by genotype. Some patients have as much as an 85% reduction in progression risk, while others see a 3 fold (300%) increase in risk of progression.


The study was followed by AREDS2, a five-year study (starting in 2006) designed to test whether the original AREDS formulation would be improved by adding omega-3 fatty acids; adding lutein and zeaxanthin; removing beta-carotene; or reducing zinc.[5][6] In AREDS2, participants took one of four AREDS formulations: the original AREDS formulation, AREDS formulation with no beta-carotene, AREDS with low zinc, AREDS with no beta-carotene and low zinc. In addition, they took one of four additional supplement or combinations including lutein and zeaxanthin (10 mg and 2 mg), omega-3 fatty acids (1,000 mg), lutein/zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids, or placebo.[5][6]

The study reported that there was no overall additional benefit from adding omega-3 fatty acids or lutein and zeaxanthin to the formulation. However, the study did find benefits in two subgroups of participants: those not given beta-carotene, and those who had very little lutein and zeaxanthin in their diets. Removing beta-carotene did not curb the formulation's protective effect against developing advanced AMD,[5] which is important given that high doses of beta-carotene have been linked to higher risk of lung cancers in smokers.[7] According to Dr. Emily Chew, "Because carotenoids can compete with each other for absorption in the body, beta-carotene may have masked the effect of the lutein and zeaxanthin in the overall analysis."[5]


  1. ^ a b c Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group (October 2001). "AREDS Report No. 8: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Clinical Trial of High-Dose Supplementation With Vitamins C and E, Beta Carotene, and Zinc for Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Vision Loss". Archives of Ophthalmology. 119 (10): 1417–1436. doi:10.1001/archopht.119.10.1417. PMC 1462955. PMID 11594942.
  2. ^ The Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group (June 2006). "The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS): Design Implications AREDS Report No. 1". Controlled Clinical Trials. 20 (6): 573–600. doi:10.1016/S0197-2456(99)00031-8. PMC 1473211. PMID 10588299.
  3. ^ Seddon, Johanna M.; Silver, Rachel E.; Rosner, Bernard (July 2016). "Response to AREDS supplements according to genetic factors: survival analysis approach using the eye as the unit of analysis". British Journal of Ophthalmology. 100 (12): 1731–1737. doi:10.1136/bjophthalmol-2016-308624. PMC 6570490. PMID 27471039.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Vavvas Demetrios G., Small Kent W., Awh Carl C., Zanke Brent W., Tibshirani Robert J., Kustra Rafal (January 2018). "CFH and ARMS2 genetic risk determines progression to neovascular age-related macular degeneration after antioxidant and zinc supplementation". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115 (4): E696–E704. doi:10.1073/pnas.1718059115. PMC 5789949. PMID 29311295.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ a b c d "NIH study provides clarity on supplements for protection against blinding eye disease". May 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-06-07. Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 Research Group (May 5, 2013). "Lutein/Zeaxanthin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Age-Related Macular Degeneration. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial". JAMA. 309 (19): 2005–2015. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.4997. PMID 23644932.
  6. ^ a b Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2)
  7. ^ Omenn, Gilbert S.; et al. (1996). "Effects of a Combination of Beta Carotene and Vitamin A on Lung Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease" (PDF). New England Journal of Medicine. 334 (18): 1150–155. doi:10.1056/NEJM199605023341802. PMID 8602180.

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