Scientific researchers presented their first results from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), a multi-center, multi-factorial, randomized, control-group trial, seeking to determine if adding lutein/zeaxanthin, omega-3s, or a combination of both, could improve upon the positive results found in the original AREDS study and further help decrease the risk of developing advanced age-related eye diseases, such as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Two articles, the first on AMD and the second on age-related cataract, were simultaneously published online in two American Medical Association publications, JAMA and JAMA Ophthalmology, respectively.
The original AREDS study, published in 2001, demonstrated that a dietary supplement formulation (known as the AREDS formulation) of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper helped reduce the risk of AMD by 25 percent. Further analysis of the AREDS study suggested that the use of a multivitamin may delay the progression of cataracts.
Although in AREDS2, the addition of lutein/zeaxanthin to the original AREDS formulation did not show statistically significant benefits among those well-nourished participants with high baseline serum levels of these nutrients, there were positive and statistically significant findings for those individuals in the lowest quintile of dietary intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin—with supplementation showing a 26 percent decrease in advanced AMD progression, a 36 percent reduction in risk for severe cataracts, and a 32 percent reduction for progression to cataract surgery.
According to CRN’s Taylor Wallace, Ph.D., senior director, scientific & regulatory affairs, “We know that optimal nutrition is good for the eyes, and certainly lutein/zeaxanthin and omega-3s are important components of a good diet. If you’re not getting enough lutein/zeaxanthin from your diet through foods such as spinach and eggs, or enough EPA/DHA omega-3s through fatty fish, then supplements still remain an important option to help fill those gaps.”
The first results from AREDS2 reported on a five year follow-up in an elderly population where the average age was 74 to 75, with already impaired eye function, and therefore might not be generalizable to younger individuals and/or those with normal eye function. Dr. Wallace explained, “Age-related eye disease has a long incubation period, and prevention through good nutrition habits should start early and continue throughout a lifespan. Maintaining good nutrition and lifestyle habits most likely have a better chance at preventing chronic disease onset than in halting or correcting a disease progression.”
Millions and millions of people around the world will experience vision-related diseases such as AMD, and CRN recommends consulting with your health care practitioner both to help prevent, as well as treat, these diseases.