Areds 2 Study & Info | What AREDS 2 Means To You
AREDS 2 is the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2, which was conducted in 2006 by researchers based at the NIH National Eye Institute. It was a follow-up study to the first AREDS, which was conducted in 2001.
This original study found that nutritional supplements that adopted the AREDS formulation can reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD, which is age-related macular degeneration, once a person is already within the intermediary stages of the disease. This formulation includes copper, zinc, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Click here to purchase the Heyedrate Ocular Health Formula.
The same research group that conducted the original study conducted AREDS2 and attempted to determine whether it was possible to improve the formulation. This time, omega-3 fatty acids were added, as well as the antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein. These antioxidants derive from the same family of nutrients as beta-carotene. The researchers experimented with substituting beta-carotene with these two antioxidants, due to the fact that prior studies have associated beta-carotene with an increased risk of lung cancer in people who smoke.
At the conclusion of the second study, researchers found that the addition of omega-3 fatty acids had neither a positive nor negative effect on the formulation. However, the substitution of lutein and zeaxanthin together was indeed an effective and safe alternative to beta-carotene, which resulted in an overall improvement to the formulation.
Many people find benefit in taking supplements that aim to reduce the risk of developing AMD. AMD involves damage to a region of the retina called the macula. It is filled with photoreceptors, which are cells that sense light, and this area is essential for central, high-resolution vision that is required for tasks including recognizing faces, driving, and reading. People who develop AMD lose their sharp vision and may eventually become functionally blind with very little vision.
AMD is a major cause of visual disability in the United States. It is estimated that 2 million people age 50 and older have vision loss due to advanced AMD. Another 8 million people have intermediate AMD. Due to the widespread effect AMD has, supplements that contain the AREDS 2 formulation are incredibly beneficial and useful and could reduce suffering in the long run for millions of Americans.
How is AMD Caused and How is it Diagnosed?
The causes of AMD are, unfortunately, not fully understood. The largest cause of the degeneration is old age. However, its onset is associated with several risk factors beyond aging.
Variations in certain genes have been shown to increase the risk of developing AMD; it has a genetic component and often runs in families. Interestingly, it is most common among people who have European descent. Other risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- A diet high in fats
- A diet low in fish and leafy green vegetables
The diagnosis of AMD and its staging depend mainly on changes within the eye that are observed during an eye exam. These include pigmentary changes in the retina and yellow deposits of drusen under the retina. These deposits contain cellular debris and cholesterol. As you age, it’s natural to develop small amounts of drusen, but an overabundance can lead to macular degeneration.
There are three stages of AMD that are recognized by clinicians and researchers:
- Early AMD, which is characterized by the development of drusen that is medium-sized (60-125 microns across). This stage does not cause vision loss.
- Intermediate AMD, which is characterized by large-sized drusen (bigger than 125 microns) as well as pigmentary changes in the retina. This stage typically causes very little or no vision loss.
- Advanced AMD, which is characterized by either:
- A gradual breakdown of the central retinal area (known as geographic atrophy)
- Fragile and abnormal blood vessels under the retina which can leak blood and damage the retina further (called wet, or neovascular AMD)
It is important to note that the AREDS formulation does not benefit people who are in the earliest stage of AMD, or people who have not developed AMD at all yet. The formulation is meant to slow the progression of intermediate AMD and prevent it from becoming advanced AMD.
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What Are the Implications for Preventing Advanced AMD?
The AREDS formulation is an incredibly important development, because this formulation is the only treatment so far known that has the ability to reduce the risk of advanced dry AMD. Studies have found that taking the formulation has a persistent benefit for people in the intermediary stage of the degeneration. We should note that there is no supplement that can necessarily prevent the progression of wet macular degeneration, as supplementation has only been shown to benefit those with dry AMD.
There has been evidence that adding omega-3 fatty acids to a nutritious diet can have a positive impact on vision health. The acids EPA and DHA, specifically, play important roles. However, in the AREDS 2 trial, it was found that taking these fatty acids as supplements did not reduce the risk of advanced AMD. In addition, taking the amino acids lutein and zeaxanthin had no overall effect on AMD, however, there is a benefit to substituting beta-carotene with these antioxidants. This benefit is especially true for former and current smokers, as well as for people who do not incorporate enough green leafy vegetables into their diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids are created by marine algae and are enriched with fish oils. It’s believed that these acids are responsible for the health benefits that are associated with regularly eating fish, including positive visual health and lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The AREDS 2 study focused on the fatty acids EPA and DHA specifically. DHA is essential for the integrity of cells in the retina, and consumption of DHA supplements has been shown in other studies to promote repair and development of the retina. Overall, we believe that anyone with AMD should be taking an omega-3 supplement. Click here to purchase Heyedrate Omega-3 for Eye Health.
Beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin belong to a family of organic pigments that are known as carotenoids. Carotenoids are created by plants and are especially plentiful in green leafy vegetables. Beta-carotene is an orange pigment, and the human body uses it to make Vitamin A, an essential vitamin that the retina requires in order to detect light and convert light into electrical signals.
The other two are yellow pigments, and create the yellow color in animal fat, egg yolks, marigolds, and corn. They’re also found naturally within the retina and lens, where they act as natural antioxidants and absorb high-energy blue, damaging, and ultraviolet light. Click here to check the price of Heyedrate Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
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How Exactly Was the AREDS 2 Study Different than the Original AREDS Study?
The first AREDS study, which was conducted in 2001, involved more than 4,700 participants who were within the age of 55-80. Of those original participants, 3,500 of them (84%) were able to partake in the follow-up study conducted five years later. In 2006, AREDS 2 enrolled a total of 4,200 participants ages 50-85. The original trial established that people with no AMD or early AMD do not benefit from the formulation, so the AREDS 2 trial featured participants who either had intermediate AMD in both eyes, or intermediate AMD in one eye and advanced AMD in the other.
The original AREDS formulation was comprised of:
- 500 mg of Vitamin C
- 400 IU of Vitamin E
- 80 mg zinc as zinc oxide
- 15 mg beta-carotene
- 2 mg copper as cupric oxide
The AREDS 2 study tested these modifications:
- An addition of 650 mg EPA
- An addition of 350 mg DHA
- 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin and zero beta-carotene
- 25 mg zinc
To test, all participants of the AREDS 2 study were given a version of the formulation. The effects of lutein/zeaxanthin as well as the effects of the added omega-3 fatty acids were evaluated by randomly assigning participants to four different treatment groups. These groups were:
- Control (original AREDS formulation only)
- Lutein/zeaxanthin only added
- DHA/EPA only added
- Lutein/zeaxanthin and DHA/EPA both added
A secondary randomization was conducted to study the effect of adjusting zinc levels and beta-carotene levels. Participants were given the choice to either keep taking the original formulation, or be randomly assigned to receive either:
- The original formulation
- AREDS without beta-carotene only
- AREDS with low zinc only
- AREDS with both low zinc and no beta-carotene
Advanced AMD progression in participants was determined by retinal photographs and treatment for neovascular/wet AMD. The results of the study showed that lutein/zeaxanthin was an efficient substitution for beta-carotene, and that the addition of DHA/EPA had little effect on success of the formulation. Hence, adding omega-3 fatty acids did not improve supplements that are recommended for treating AMD, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin also had no overall effect. However, the antioxidants were safer than beta-carotene, especially for those who are or were smokers.
The results provide both patients and physicians with new information about the ability to prevent vision loss that is caused by the progression of AMD. People who are 60 years old or older should get a dilated eye exam at least once a year and discuss with their eye doctor the options of taking AREDS supplements. In certain cases, taking a supplement that contains the AREDS formulation may provide benefits that protect your vision. Click here to purchase the Heyedrate Ocular Health AREDS 2 Formula.
What Does AREDS 2 Mean for You?
The two Age-Related Eye Disease Studies and their results have a significant impact on millions of Americans who have AMD, especially if they are suffering from intermediate stages, as the AREDS formulation is a means of preventing the progression of AMD and protecting eyesight.
The formulation has since been improved with the AREDS 2 study, and can reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD. If you or a loved one are at risk for advanced AMD, it’s possible for you to speak with a healthcare professional about taking nutritional supplements and using the AREDS formulation.
Modifications were tested and the original formulation was changed because previous studies had found that a dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids and the antioxidants lutein/zeaxanthin could potentially aid in lowering the risk of developing advanced AMD. Research was conducted to test whether this was indeed true. The original AREDS also included beta-carotene, and the National Cancer Institute has found that beta-carotene can potentially increase the risk of lung cancer among smokers and former smokers. Researchers aimed to find a safer and more effective alternative to beta-carotene within the same family of nutrients to reduce this risk, and lutein/zeaxanthin were two antioxidants that fit the requirements. The amount of zinc within the formulation, while an essential component, was also reduced to accommodate the advice of nutritional experts.
If you’re wondering which formulation you should take–the original formulation or the new AREDS 2 formulation–you should consult with your doctor or eye care professional. Either supplement may be right for you. Based on the AREDS and AREDS 2 research, the ingredients of the formulation are:
- 500 milligrams of vitamin C
- 400 international units of vitamin E
- 80 mg zinc as zinc oxide
- 10 mg lutein with 2 mg zeaxanthin
- 2 mg copper as cupric oxide
Changing the original AREDS formulation does indeed have an effect. In the first trial, taking the original formula reduced a person’s risk of their AMD advancing by 25% over a period of five years.
The AREDS 2 trial found that adding DHA/EPA or lutein/zeaxanthin had no effect on further reducing the risk of advanced AMD. However, participants who took AREDS containing no beta-carotene and instead included lutein/zeaxanthin had a slight reduction in their risk, compared with participants who took formulation that had beta-carotene in it.
Additionally, patients who consumed low levels of lutein/zeaxanthin in their diet benefited from adding these to the AREDS formulation, as it further lowered their risk of advanced AMD.
Keep in mind that taking an AREDS formulation won’t necessarily prevent AMD. There is no known treatment that can prevent the onset of AMD and its early stages. Once degeneration begins, taking an AREDS formulation could delay the progression of your AMD and prevent you from entering the advanced stage. It can help you keep your vision sharper for longer if you have intermediate AMD or advanced AMD in just one eye. The people who participated in the first AREDS trial have now been studied for ten years, and the benefits they have shown by taking the formulation have so far persisted.
Can I Get Some of the AREDS Formulation in My Regular Diet?
The formulation provides high levels of zinc and antioxidants, and you cannot get these same levels from your diet alone. However, it has been observed that people who incorporate lots of green, leafy vegetables into their diet have a lower risk of developing AMD in the first place, because those vegetables are a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin.
During the AREDS 2 trial, the participants who benefited the most from receiving these antioxidants were those who didn’t get these nutrients in their diet anyways. In this group, participants who received lutein/zeaxanthin in their formulation supplements had a 26% reduced risk of developing advanced AMD, compared to participants who didn’t receive the antioxidants in their supplements.
It is possible to get a combination of antioxidants and zinc in other supplements, similar to the levels that were examined in the AREDS studies. People who are at a high risk for developing advanced AMD should consider taking an antioxidant-zinc combination. These people will have either:
- Intermediate AMD in one or both eyes, which can be detected by an eye care professional and involves little or no vision loss
- Advanced AMD in one eye, but not in the other. In this case, the person will have either dry AMD or wet AMD, and either of these forms can result in vision loss.
If you’re taking an AREDS formulation and you enjoy taking a daily multivitamin, you can rest assured that you can take both at the same time. In fact, it’s recommended that you continue with your multivitamin regimen even as you begin the AREDS formulation, because the formulation is by no means a substitute for multivitamins and other essential supplements you are taking.
During the first AREDS trial, ⅔ of the participants took multivitamins alongside the AREDS formulation. During the second trial, nine out of ten participants were taking multivitamins.
Keep in mind, however, that the AREDS formulation exists because it can help reduce your risk of advanced AMD in a way that no other supplement can. A daily multivitamin alone can by no means provide the same benefits as an AREDS formulation. In fact, the vitamins and minerals that were tested in the AREDS trial were provided in higher doses than you would typically find in a multivitamin. By the end of the trials, it was clear that the AREDS formulation provided a benefit over multivitamins and that it’s best to take both the formulation and multivitamins together.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Taking the AREDS Formulation?
The formulation is recommended for people who are age 50 or older, since this is when AMD typically occurs within life. Many elderly people additionally take prescription medications, herbal medicines, dietary supplements, and over the counter drugs. Supplements that feature high doses of certain nutrients, such as the AREDS formulation, can interfere with certain medications. It can also end up competing with other nutrients that are vital for your health for absorption. If you’re considering taking the AREDS formulation, you should first discuss things with your eye care professional and your primary care doctor to ensure it is the best option for your health and that it won’t interfere with any other types of medication you may be taking.
Certain nutrients in the AREDS formulation may also require special attention. For example, there is a risk for smokers advancing their lung cancer if they take beta-carotene. During the AREDS2 trial, people who smoked currently or who had recently quit smoking were excluded from receiving formulations that included beta-carotene. Despite this precaution, 2% of participants who took an AREDS formulation with beta-carotene were observed to have lung cancer, while 0.9 percent of participants who took it without beta-carotene were observed to have the cancer. Within both groups, 91% of participants who had lung cancer were former smokers.
Former smokers are at an increased risk for developing lung cancer if they take high doses of beta-carotene, as shown by large clinical trials that were conducted by the National Cancer Institute. During these clinical trials, most of the smokers were classified as heavy smokers. Many studies have suggested that even if years have passed since a smoker quit, the person still maintains some increased risk of lung cancer. It’s reasonable to expect that beta-carotene consumption may slightly increase their risk for a period of several years.
As you discuss your options with your doctor and debate including beta-carotene in your formulation, you should balance the risk of AMD progression with the apparent increase in risk of lung cancer.
To some people, the high dosage of vitamin E within the AREDS formulation may also be cause for concern. To date, there is conflicting data on whether vitamin E can impact the risk of prostate cancer. Some studies have shown that vitamin E reduces the risk of prostate cancer, while others have shown an increase in risk.
In the original AREDS trial, a high dosage of vitamin E had no effect on male participants’ risk of prostate cancer. During the AREDS2 trial, all participants were offered a formulation containing vitamin E and it was noted that there were no concerns about an increase in risk. However, if you have concerns, speak with your healthcare provider about the possible risks and the factors that can influence your risk of prostate cancer.
Is There A Recommended Supplement to Take That Contains the AREDS2 Formula?
There are many supplements out there, however, one that is often recommended by both health care professionals and eye doctors is Eye Love’s Ocular Health AREDS 2 Formula. This ocular formula was developed by optometrists and features the AREDS2 formulation as it’s packed with lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin as well. You’ll be provided with complete retina and macula support. It’s important to have optimal vision and healthy eyes for your entire life, and this health formula from Eye Love provides exactly that for you; it’s a very easy to use, complete, and effective solution for your eye health.
This formula in particular was designed to take the great results of AREDS research and combine it with additional nutrients that have been clinically proven to support macular health. The supplement enhances both your vision and overall eye health with powerful antioxidants that work with the additional vitamins and minerals to ensure lifelong eye function and health. When your macula is healthy, you’ll be able to observe fine detail and perform visual tasks such as using a computer, watching TV, recognizing faces, driving, and reading.
This supplement is validated and approved by medical professionals. It contains everything you need to strengthen your vision and increase overall macular pigment. It features 14 optimal nutrients, including:
- Grape Seed Extract
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid
- Vitamins B-6, C, D, and E
Eye Love makes it easy to begin an eye vitamin regimen. Simply take two capsules every day to protect your eyes and preserve your vision. With this formula in particular, you can rest assured that you’re trying your best to maintain your eye health for the long term. Studies have shown that the earlier you adopt a regimen and make changes to your lifestyle to support your health, the less risk you have for degenerative eye issues.
The first AREDS study, conducted in 2001, was groundbreaking in terms of treatment for the advancement of AMD (age-related macular degeneration). It found that the AREDS formulation, which features vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, copper, and antioxidants, can reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD once a person is already within the intermediary stages of the degeneration.
A follow-up study in 2006, AREDS2, improved the original formulation. This study found that adding omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA had no effect on the success of the formulation. However, it also found that the substitution of lutein and zeaxanthin was a successful replacement for beta-carotene, which makes the formulation safer for people who have lung cancer. Although the experiment did not result in an increase to the reduction of advanced AMD risk, overall it offered an improvement to the original formulation.
As with any supplement, there can be risks associated with taking a product that features the AREDS formulation. Since elderly people tend to get AMD, this group also is likely to be on other medications, which the formulation may interfere with. If you’re considering taking the AREDS formulation, it’s highly recommended that you speak with both your regular doctor and your eye doctor to ensure this choice is right for you. From there, you can settle on a product to invest in. You may continue to take multivitamins, and in fact, a combination of multivitamins and AREDS formulation provides the most beneficial results.
Overall, the AREDS formulation may offer benefits. So far, it is the only treatment available that can reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD if you are already in the intermediary stages. Investing in the formulation can provide a boost to your visual health in the long run, and ensure you have sharp vision for the rest of your life.