Who should receive oral supplement treatment for age-related macular degeneration?
Oxidative damage to the retina has been proposed as a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Dietary or supplemental antioxidants may play a protective role. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), a randomized, multicenter, placebo-controlled clinical trial designed to test the effect of pharmacologic doses of antioxidants and zinc on the incidence and progression of AMD, reported a beneficial effect of high-dose supplements, taken for approximately 6 years, in delaying the progression of intermediate AMD to advanced AMD. AREDS and subsequent research on dietary intake or supplement use have not indicated a protective role of antioxidant or zinc intake or supplement use in the incidence or prevalence of early AMD. Numbers of cases were insufficient to investigate effects on late AMD. Persons with intermediate AMD and without contraindications should consider using antioxidant and zinc supplements. There is no evidence to date that earlier use conveys benefit.