The Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2) have been a major source of information regarding how we treat Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Recently, the study has provided us with more useful information.
AMD is the leading cause of blindness in Americans 60 years of age and older. Approximately 30% of the people over 75 years of age have some degree of AMD. Patients with late-stage disease suffer the greatest degree of vision loss, while patients with mild or moderate disease enjoy relatively low levels of vision loss. In order to improve our care for this significant condition, the AREDS studies were created. The original AREDS study (1996) produced a vitamin formulation which was effective at reducing the risk of AMD progression. When given to early and moderate stage AMD patients, it reduced the risk of disease progression to late-stage AMD by 26%. However, the supplement contained beta carotene which poses an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. Therefore, a second “smoker’s” formulation was made without beta carotene. In 2006 a new supplement was devised, the AREDS2 formulation. The AREDS2 formulation replaced beta carotene with lutein and zeaxanthin. It has become the mainstay of what we recommend to our AMD patients as a preventative supplement. It was generally regarded that the AREDS and AREDS2 supplements had equal levels of benefit, but the AREDS2 supplement was generally safer to use.
Ten year data from the AREDS2 study shows the AREDS2 supplement is even MORE effective at slowing AMD progression then the original AREDS supplement. Specifically, it has an ADDITIONAL 20% reduced risk of disease progression to late AMD compared to the original AREDS supplement with beta carotene. These results clearly show that patients with early and moderate stage AMD should be taking a supplement and that supplement should be AREDS2.
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