Taking a combination of vitamins can lower the risk of vision loss in some patients with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Although the treatment cannot reverse existing conditions, it may slow the progression of the disease.

Dry AMD usually advances slowly and may only affect one eye.  A study conducted by the National Eye Institute (NEI) showed that people with intermediate-to-advanced dry AMD benefitted from a formulation of antioxidant vitamins and zinc.  The supplements in the study, a high-dose combination of vitamins A, C, E, copper and zinc, slowed the progression of vision loss; however, no evidence exists that these vitamins are beneficial to people with early-stage dry macular degeneration.

In its study, the National Eye Institute used a combination of the following:

  • 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
  • 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E
  • 15 mg of beta carotene (often as vitamin A — up to 25,000 IU)
  • 80 mg of zinc (as zinc oxide)
  • 2 mg of copper (as cupric oxide)

Risks and complications exist with some vitamin supplements; a physician should be consulted before taking any high-dose formulation. Beta carotene supplements have been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer with smokers. It may also increase the chances of coronary artery disease. Heart failure and other complications have been associated with high doses of vitamin E.

Rather than taking supplements, some people prefer to change their diets to include fruits and vegetables that contain nutrients believed to be beneficial to good eye health.

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