Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that can cause blurry central vision. AREDS 2 is a type of multivitamin that doctors may recommend to help treat mild to moderate cases of AMD.

AMD is the result of damage occurring to the macula, a part of the eye responsible for visual clarity, typically as part of the aging process. There are two types: dry and wet AMD.

Dry is the most common form and occurs in three distinct phases. Wet AMD can occur at any stage of dry AMD and is associated with faster vision degeneration. It occurs when blood vessels grow in the back of the eye and cause damage to the macula.

AREDS 2 are dietary supplements that may help slow the progression of dry AMD. While these supplements may not fully prevent wet AMD from occurring, they may help reduce the risk of dry AMD progressing to wet AMD.

This article reviews what AREDS 2 are, how they may help with AMD, and more.

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AREDS 2 is a supplement made up of different vitamins that can help improve eye health. The vitamins include:

Several clinical trials, collectively known as Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS), show that this combination of vitamins may help slow the progression of dry AMD.

A person does not need a prescription to purchase AREDS 2 supplements. They can find them at most pharmacies and online.

The AREDS 2 formula may help people with intermediate and late stages of AMD. It will not help people without AMD or who have an early stage of the disease.

The AREDS 2 formula may help slow the progression of AMD from an intermediate to later stage. In the clinical trials, researchers found it reduced the risk of progression by about 25% in the following groups of people:

  • those at high risk for developing advanced AMD
  • those with intermediate AMD
  • those with advanced AMD in one eye only

Though potentially beneficial for people with AMD, the supplements cannot prevent the development of AMD or cataracts.

The AREDS 2 formula has a specific set of vitamins that can help promote eye health.

The supplement contains carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are natural antioxidants. The eye stores and uses both lutein and zeaxanthin. They may help protect the eyes from ultraviolet and high energy blue lights. For AMD, lutein and zeaxanthin may help reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD.

The developers of AREDS 2 supplements added copper, in the form of cupric oxide, to help protect against anemia due to copper deficiency.

Vitamins that contain large amounts of zinc, such as AREDS 2, put a person at risk of this form of anemia. Anemia occurs when the number of red blood cells circulating in the body decreases, putting them at risk of infections and other complications.

Clinical studies suggest that including zinc in the supplement’s formula helped provide a protective effect for the eyes in people with AMD.

Both vitamin C and E play a protective role in the eyes. Both are antioxidants that may help protect the eye. Additionally, research from 2018 notes that vitamin C may also help regenerate vitamin E within the eye itself.

AREDS 2 contains more than the daily recommended amounts of both vitamins. However, they are still considered safe for consumption.

AREDS 2 contains vitamins that can interact with certain medications.

Vitamin E can interact with chemotherapy medication, blood thinners, and lipid-lowering drugs. A person should discuss AREDS 2 with a doctor before taking it if they are already taking other medication or supplements.

Vitamin E may put a person at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. However, research looking into its effect is conflicting. A person should discuss their risk with a doctor before taking the supplement.

The high levels of vitamins can also affect how a person digests other foods.

People who smoke or used to smoke should also avoid the older version of AREDS 2, known as AREDS. This formula contained beta carotene, which can increase their risk of lung cancer.

Clinical studies suggest that AREDS 2 cannot fully prevent wet AMD.

However, research also indicates that these supplements may delay the progression of intermediate to advanced AMD and may help a person maintain their vision.

As doctors consider wet AMD to be a type of late stage of AMD, AREDS 2 may help delay wet AMD from developing.

Before taking additional supplements or vitamins, it is advisable for a person to discuss their current medications with a doctor. They can help advise the person on the risks associated with taking the supplement with certain medications.

In addition to AREDS 2, a person may consider making changes to their dietary patterns. Alterations to their eating plan can include dark leafy greens, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish.

AREDS 2 is a vitamin supplement that may help prevent the development of wet AMD or late stage AMD. The supplement helps support eye health with a variety of antioxidants.

However, AREDS 2 will not correct vision damage, nor will it treat wet AMD. In addition to AREDS 2 supplements, a person may also consider changing their dietary plans to include foods, such as fatty fish, to help manage AMD.