(October 12, 2006, Parsippany, New Jersey) The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today the launch of a nationwide study to see if a modified combination of vitamins, minerals, and fish oil can further slow the progression of vision loss from AMD, the leading cause of vision loss in the United States for people over age 60. This new study, called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2), will build upon results from the earlier Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). The original study results were released five years ago today. The study found that high-dose antioxidant vitamins and minerals (vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper), taken orally, reduced the risk of progression to advanced AMD by 25 percent, and the risk of moderate vision loss by 19 percent.
AREDS2 will refine the findings of the original study by adding 10mg of lutein and 2mg of zeaxanthin (plant-derived yellow pigments that accumulate in the macula, the small area responsible for central vision near the center of the retina) and the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA (derived from fish oil) to the study formulation. The 5:1 ratio of lutein to zeaxanthin was chosen for the study because it was found to be associated with the benefits seen in observational studies. The main study objective is to determine if these nutrients will decrease a person’s risk of progression to advanced AMD, which often leads to vision loss. Previous observational studies have suggested these nutrients may protect vision.
DSM Nutritional Products, Inc., is supporting this major study by providing the lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplements to be used in this trial.
“Vision loss from AMD is an important public health issue. This study may help us find a better way to treat this devastating disease,” said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director of the NIH.
“This study is very exciting and we believe it may help provide further support on the health benefits of lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and demonstrate their potential to help save the sight of thousands of individuals every year,” said Dr. James Elliott, Director of Nutritional Science for DSM Nutritional Products, Inc.
Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Eye Institute (NEI) at NIH, said, “Nearly two million Americans have vision loss from advanced AMD, and another seven million with AMD are at substantial risk for vision loss. In the AREDS study, we found a combination of vitamins and minerals that effectively slowed the progression of AMD for some people. Now, we will conduct this more precisely-targeted study to see if the new combination of nutrients can reduce AMD progression even further. This study may help people at high risk for advanced AMD maintain useful vision for a longer time.”
Emily Y. Chew, M.D., Study Chair and Deputy Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the NEI said, “The AREDS2 study is seeking 4,000 people between 50 and 85 years of age with AMD in both eyes, or advanced AMD in one eye. They must be available for yearly eye examinations for at least five years. Until we get the results from AREDS2, we encourage people with AMD to visit their eye care professional to see if they need to take the AREDS vitamin and mineral formulation. This alone could save more than 300,000 people from vision loss over the next five years.”
For a list of study centers, eligibility requirements, and other information, go to: http://www.nei.nih.gov/AREDS2, or call 1-877-AREDS-80 (1-877-273-3780).
The National Eye Institute (NEI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is the Federal government's lead agency for vision research that leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness. For more information, visit the NEI Website at http://www.nei.nih.gov/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov/.