Nutritional supplements for age-related macular degeneration

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of visual loss in older adults, has limited therapeutic options. This review describes the current literature on the role of nutritional supplementation in primary and secondary prevention of AMD.

Recent findings

Many observational studies have explored the association between diet, nutrient intake, and AMD. In particular, high dietary intakes of ω-3 fatty acids, and macular xanthophylls lutein and zeaxanthin have been associated with a lower risk of prevalent and incident AMD. However, the Age-Related Eye Disease study (AREDS) is the only large-scale randomized controlled clinical trial to show a 25% beneficial effect of nutritional supplementation in reducing the risk progression to advanced AMD in patients with intermediate AMD or with advanced AMD in one eye at 5 years of follow-up. On the basis of the results of AREDS, these patients are recommended to take AREDS formulation of vitamins C, E, β-carotene, and zinc with copper.

Summary

At the present time, there is insufficient evidence in the literature to recommend routine nutritional supplementation in healthy adults for primary prevention of AMD. However, patients with intermediate risk of AMD or advanced AMD in one eye should consider taking AREDS-type supplements. Observational studies have also suggested benefit from increased dietary intake of macular xanthophylls and ω-3 fatty acids. These are currently being evaluated prospectively in a randomized controlled clinical trial, the AREDS2.

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