The AREDS study, published in 2001, was a groundbreaking study which evaluated the best vitamins for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study’s focus was to identify the best vitamins to help manage the progression of macular degeneration.1

AREDS Study

  • The AREDS Study spanned over six years1
  • Participants were given either a multinutrient formulation or a placebo pill1
  • The progression of macular degeneration was monitored throughout the study1
  • The results showed that the multinutrient formulation had a significant impact on the participant’s vision1
  • Risk of developing wet AMD in one or both eyes reduced by 25% for those who had moderate dry AMD in one or both eyes, or had wet AMD in one eye1

The nutrients included in the AREDS study formula were chosen based off previous studies which showed the selected ingredients helped to lower the risk of developing or slowing progression of macular degeneration.1

The AREDS formula, which was the premiere formula for age-related macular degeneration at the time of publishing, included:2

  • Vitamin C: 500 mg
  • Vitamin E: 400 IU
  • Zinc: 80 mg
  • Copper: 2 mg

AREDS 2 Study

Published in 2013, the AREDS 2 study was performed as a follow-up to the original AREDS study with the goal of measuring the effectiveness of ingredient dosages and the benefits of additional nutrients.2

  • Participants included those with intermediate AMD in both eyes or intermediate AMD in one eye and advanced in the other1
  • AREDS 2 formula substituted beta-carotene from original AREDS formula with lutein and zeaxanthin1
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin resulted in increased benefit2

Based off the study, the recommended AREDS 2 formula includes:2

  • Vitamin C: 500 mg
  • Vitamin E: 400 IU
  • Copper: 2 mg
  • Zinc: 80 mg
  • Lutein: 10 mg
  • Zeaxanthin: 2mg

Beyond AREDS 2 Formula

The EyeScience Macular Health formula goes beyond AREDS 2 as it has additional nutrients that are beneficial to slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration. These nutrients include:1

  • Bilberry
  • Grape Seed Extract
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate

The below table outlines the ingredients in the Beyond AREDS 2 Macular Health Formula Vs. the AREDS 2 formula ingredients and dosages.

NutrientMacular Health Formula AREDS 2 Formula
Vitamin C500 mg500 mg
Vitamin E268 mg268 mg
Copper2 mg 2 mg
Zinc40 mg80 mg
Lutein 10 mg10 mg
Zeaxanthin2 mg2 mg
Alpha Lipoic Acid20 mg --
Grape Seed Extract20 mg --
Bilberry Fruit Extract15 mg --
L-Glutathione10 mg--
Astaxanthin 12 mg--

Why is the Zinc Dosage Less than AREDS 2 Formula?

areds 2 formula

The Macular Health Formula contains 40 mg of zinc compared to the AREDS 2 formula which contains 80 mg. 3 This may have you wondering, “why there is only half the amount of zinc in the formula we refer to as Beyond AREDS 2?” To answer this, we’ll dive into the AREDS and AREDS 2 studies.

In the original AREDS formula, there was 80 mg of zinc. In AREDS 2, this dosage was tested and compared with that of 25 mg of zinc due to concern of over-mineralization. The study found no difference in the different dosages, meaning there was no additional benefit to having 80 mg of zinc and no negative impact of only 25 mg of zinc.3

And for some reason, the AREDS 2 formula dosage remained at 80 mg even though there was no perceived benefit.3 This elevated dosage without reason may cause concern because, when it comes to zinc, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

The Concern over Too Much Zinc

Zinc is an important nutrient, especially for the immune system. The recommended daily amount depends on age, ranging from 8-11 mg for adults and 11-13 for pregnant and breastfeeding women, with the upper limit being 40 mg per day according to the Mayo Clinic. Most people can get the recommended daily amount through their diet,4 as it can be found in foods such as red meat, poultry, whole grains, fortified cereals, and oysters.5

Importance of Taking Copper with Zinc

While it has been found that zinc may help to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, there is risk of taking too much of this nutrient. When too much zinc is taken, it can cause a copper deficiency which can be responsible for the symptoms listed below:5

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches

In addition to impacting copper levels, prolonged intake of too much zinc can also decrease immunity and reduce HDL cholesterol.  In general, the daily upper limits of intake for adults is 40 mg, along with 2 mg of copper to prevent deficiency.4, 6 Before taking a supplement with high dosages of zinc, it is recommended to consult with your healthcare professional.

Choosing the Best AREDS 2 Supplement

With no statistical effect shown in receiving 80 mg in the AREDS 2 formula vs. 25 mg, many wonder why the AREDS 2 recommended dosage maintained the original 80 mg.3

Studies have shown additional supplements outside of those in AREDS 2 may help with AMD. With no results supporting the zinc dosage of 80 mg in the AREDS 2 formula, the EyeScience Macular Health Formula contains a lower dosage of 40 mg, along with additional vitamins proven to slow progression including bilberry, grape seed extract, alpha lipoic acid, selenium, vitamin B6 and folate.

To learn more about age-related macular degeneration, visit our blog.

 

1 Samuel, M. A. (2015). Macular degeneration: A complete guide for patients and their families. Basic Health Publications.
2 VisiVite
3 Optometry Today
4 National Institutes of Health
5 The Swell Score
6 Mount Sinai