In May of 2013 researchers released the results preliminary results of the AREDS 2 study. AREDS is the Age Related Eye Disease Study and looks specifically at preventing vision loss from age related macular degeneration. Let’s talk about what macular degeneration is before we jump into the results of the study.
The macula is the region of the retina that is responsible for the sharp central vision. When you are read a book or look at someone’s face, you are using your macula. Macular degeneration occurs as people age–waste products from the eye’s metabolism begin to build up in the macular region. There are two forms of macular degeneration: a dry form and a wet form. The wet form, in addition to having the built up of waste products, has bleeding from faulty blood vessels. While the wet form of macular degeneration only accounts for 10% of cases it causes 90% of vision loss.
The original AREDS study was released in 2001. It showed that a specific formula of vitamin supplements helped lower the risk of progression of macular degeneration.
AREDS 2 looked to modify this formula by adding compounds called lutein, zeaxanthine, and omega-3 fatty acids. The results of AREDS 2 showed that omega-3s had no effect on progression but lutein and zeaxanthine did. It also concluded that Vitamin A could be dropped from the original formula and it would still be at least as effective.
It’s important to note that the AREDS formulations do not prevent macular degeneration from forming. However, they can help control the progression. The only way to be checked for macular degeneration is with an eye exam from a doctor. Some important risks factors for developing macular degeneration are older age, female gender, and family history (as there is a genetic component). A history of smoking is also a major risk factor. Macular degeneration can cause devastating vision loss, but with early detection and close monitoring this risk can be reduced.
A yearly eye exam goes a long way in maintaining good ocular health for life. At our Nashville and Hendersonville locations, our eye doctors are equipped to treat macular degeneration and other eye diseases. If you are concerned about your potential for developing macular degeneration, please do not hesitate to make an appointment to see one of our eye doctors. The sooner macular degeneration is detected and managed, the better the results will be!