Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that is becoming more well known these days. With an ever growing aging population, it is clear why this age related eye condition is having an effect on an ever wider section of society. The idea of developing macular degeneration fills me with dread. I’m sure that would be the reaction of most of us if faced with this condition. So the option of taking eye supplements to prevent it or at least slow down the progress of this condition is instantly attractive. It’s got to beat an injection into the eye! But do eye supplements actually work? And if they do, do all eye supplements have the same effect? Please read on to discover if eye supplements are worth the hype and what is the best eye supplement for macular degeneration.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Before we get into looking at the supplements, let me first provide a summary on what macular degeneration really is.
The macular is situated at the back of the eye. It is the central part of the retina. It is responsible for our central vision.
When this starts to deteriorate, the central vision becomes less defined and as the condition worsens, the vision becomes blurry and later, in its advanced stage, there is a loss of central vision. It doesn’t lead to total loss of sight but enough to mean that the eyesight is severely affected such that carrying out every day tasks will be difficult.
Not a nice prospect, is it?
Early signs of the condition could be that a part of your vision appears blurry. Another tell includes seeing straight lines wavy or crooked. Obviously, it goes without saying that if you suspect any vision issue, see your eye doctor straight away about it. If you attend regular eye examinations hopefully any eye condition you may have can be picked up at a very early stage.
There are 2 types of macular degeneration.
1. Dry Macular Degeneration: this is the most common type. This generally develops slowly.
Currently, supplements are the only known way to slow intermediate to advanced dry AMD.
2. Wet Macular Degeneration: this generally develops quickly. It is regarded as the aggressive version. This could progress significantly in a matter of weeks or a few months. This needs to be treated fast to stop it developing.
Wet AMD can be treated by way of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs. These medications halt the progress of the condition by stopping the growth of new blood vessels in the eye. The drugs are administered by injection into the eye. Ouch! I can’t think of a worse place to have an injection.
How Can Supplements Help This Condition?
The first Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) was carried out by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in America in 2001 with over 5,000 volunteers. The study was designed to chart the effectiveness of supplements on intermediate to severe dry AMD. So it was not testing for the effects (if any) on the following:
⇒Preventing progression from early to intermediate dry AMD
So the study was testing on a specific group with the condition. There was a follow up study (AREDS2) carried out over five years and its results were released in 2013. The AREDS2 study took out Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A) from its formula because of the increased risks to smokers and former smokers to lung cancer when taking Beta-Carotene. This was replaced with the following nutrients: lutein and zeaxanthin.
While it is a shame that the study did not look into the effects of taking the supplements for those with early AMD, the results were encouraging for the tested group.
The AREDS2 results showed that the risk of progression from intermediate to severe dry AMD was reduced by 19% and/or vision loss by 25% after taking the AREDS2 formula. See the NIH results here.
The AREDS and AREDS2 formulas are currently the only treatments proven to be effective for intermediate and severe dry AMD.
What is the AREDS2 formula?
The exact formula is as follows:
500mg Vitamin C
400 IU of Vitamin E
80mg of zinc
2mg of copper
The Criteria Used To Determine The Best Supplement
This is the criteria I have used to choose the best supplement:
- I have chosen the AREDS2 formula over the original. Why? Because it is for smokers and non-smokers alike. Also, the benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin were endorsed following testing carried out by the Waterford Institute in Ireland. You can read my post on their research here.
- There are a lot of supplements out there saying they use the AREDS2 formula but in fact one ingredient or other is not the same quantity as listed above. So it is very important to check the label to ensure the quantities are exactly the same to get the same benefit.
- I personally prefer an easy to swallow capsule. So I have factored that in to my criteria.
- The ingredients have to be as natural as possible. I look for those that are GMO free and try to avoid gelatin if I possibly can.
The Big Brand
The PreserVision AREDS 2 formula from Bausch & Lomb:
This has the EXACT formula. While the label can not be seen on the Amazon website, on PreserVision’s own website, it provides a breakdown of its contents and the exact quantities of the items shown in the formula above are there.
These are soft gels. Two gels need to be taken per day. So swallowing these are nice and easy.
They do contain gelatin unfortunately. Well, you can’t win ’em all!
While the pack says it contains no additives, it still contains gelatin. So one draw back if you are vegetarian or not keen on the use of gelatin in these types of products like I am.
I did research a lot to see if any other product could match the criteria that I set above. The only other I could find was the Ocufit AREDS2 formula Eye Vitamin and Mineral Supplement. Again, it contains ALL the ingredients from the AREDS2 formula and the exact quantities.
The supplements are in the form of capsules but still easy to swallow. Two capsules to be taken every day.
They are made from all natural ingredients but again like the Preservision product, they contain gelatin! Unfortunately I am yet to find a product with the exact AREDS2 formula without gelatin. If you find one, please let me know!
They are markedly cheaper than the Preservision option so if cost is a factor for you, consider the Ocufit AREDS2 formula.
Other Options Out There
Just to give you an idea on what I mean when other manufacturers say their products adhere to the AREDS 2 formula but on closer inspection you find their formula is not quite the same, consider the Pro-Optic AREDS2 formula.
On the bottle it states that it contains the exact nutrients used in the AREDS2 study.
However, the exact quantities differ. The dosage for Vitamin E is cut by half. So 200 IU instead of 400 IU. But the manufacturer does explain that as they are using natural Vitamin E rather than the synthetic version used in the trial, it equates to the same amount.
OK, I get that. It makes some sense. The natural version is twice as effective as the synthetic version.
However, what is not explained is why the amount of zinc is reduced from 80mg as on the trial to only 25mg in these capsules.
Check The Label!
So the moral of the story is always check what is says on the label of the bottle or the box! While various manufacturers may be putting in bold letters on the front of the bottle or box ‘AREDS2 formula’ you may not be getting the exact quantities as successfully used in the AREDS2 study.
There may well be a good reason why manufactures like Pro-Optic did decide to reduce the dose of certain nutrients in their product but I can’t find any adequate explanation for this.
The number of manufacturers using the same nutrients with the same quantities I found to be surprisingly small. It really does appear to be a choice between the well-known brand of Preservision and the lesser known, Ocufit.
In closing, I just wanted to repeat that if you have any issue with your eyes, please see your eye doctor or optician about it first before considering using a supplement as a way of treatment. As I said above, supplements for slowing down the progression of dry AMD are only known to be effective at a particular stage (between the intermediate to advanced stage). So you need to get expert advice to see if you have the condition and if so, what type and at what stage the condition is at.
Thank you for reading this post. If you have any questions or queries about its contents, I invite you to leave your comment below and I will respond to you shortly.