I saw an optometrist a few months ago for a new eyeglass prescription and mentioned that age-related macular degeneration (ARMD or AMD) runs in my family. ARMD is the leading cause of adult blindness in the West.
The optometrist suggested I start taking eye vitamins to help prevent ARMD. Popular eye vitamin preparations around here are Ocuvite and I-Caps. He said a multivitamin like Centrum might be just as effective.
UpToDate.com, a source I trust, says that supplements for prevention probably don’t work and are not recommended. Which means Centrum would be just as effective: i.e., none of them work.
Instead, UpToDate recommends regular exercise, not smoking, and relatively high consumption of leafy green vegetables, fruits, fish and nuts. Although they didn’t mention it by name, the traditional Mediterranean diet provides all of those.
On the other hand, if you already have macular degeneration (wet or dry), UpToDate recommends these supplements (probably based on the AREDS-2 study):
- vitamin C 500 mg/day
- vitamin E 400 mg/day
- lutein 10 mg/day
- zeaxanthin 1 mg/day
- zinc 80 mg/day (as zinc oxide)
- copper 2 mg/day (as cupric oxide)
An reasonable alternative for non-smokers and never-smokers is the standard AREDS formula. It’s the same as above except it substitutes beta carotene for lutein or zeaxanthin. You can buy both formulations over-the-counter in the U.S. pre-mixed so you don’t have to swallow a handful of pills, just one.
I was in a supermarket yesterday checking out eye vitamins and noted that Bausch and Lomb’s AREDS-2 formula costs about $10/month.
I’m not taking these supplements for now. I taking the diet, exercise, and non-smoking route.
Steve Parker, M.D.