Macular degeneration is a progressive eye condition that has no cure. In some cases, a specific combination of nutrients found in supplements called AREDS 2 can slow its progression.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that damages the macula, the part of your eye that plays a role in your central (straight ahead) vision. When the macula is damaged, your central vision may become blurry. Straight lines can become wavy or distorted. You may have difficulty seeing fine details.

There are different types of AMD: dry AMD and wet AMD. Dry AMD is more common. In dry AMD, age and time cause the cells of the macula to break down. There’s also a buildup of proteins called drusen. Wet AMD develops from leaking blood vessels in the eye, causing fluid buildup around the macula.

There’s no cure for either wet or dry AMD. However, treatments may slow the progression of wet AMD. There are no treatments currently available for dry AMD.

Two clinical trials with the National Eye Institute found that specific supplements may help slow progression. This article takes a closer look at what these trials discovered and what types of supplements may help slow the progression of AMD.

Yes. According to the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS/AREDS 2), certain supplements may help slow AMD progression for some people.

However, AREDS 2 supplements may not be helpful for all stages of AMD. That’s why it’s important to talk with your eye doctor to find out whether AREDS 2 supplements could be part of your AMD management plan.


The original AREDS clinical trial used a slightly different combination of nutrients. AREDS 2 is the most recent formulation and is more widely used now.

The biggest difference is that the original AREDS contains 15 milligrams (mg) of beta carotene. In the AREDS 2 trial, beta carotene was replaced with lutein and zeaxanthin.

Beta carotene can increase lung cancer risk for current or former smokers. The new formula is safe for smokers and nonsmokers alike.

Was this helpful?

The AREDS 2 supplements contain:

  • 500 mg of vitamin C
  • 400 IU of vitamin E
  • 2 mg of copper (as cupric oxide)
  • 10 mg of lutein
  • 2 mg of zeaxanthin
  • 80 mg of zinc

The content of AREDS 2 supplements is higher than what you could get through diet alone. It also provides different amounts of nutrients than a standard multivitamin. A daily multivitamin will not provide the same benefit as an AREDS 2 formula.

AREDS 2 supplements are most beneficial for specific stages of both wet and dry AMD.

The AREDS/AREDS 2 clinical trial showed benefits for:

  • intermediate stage AMD in one or both eyes
  • late stage AMD in one eye

The intermediate stage is often the best time to start AREDS 2 if they are recommended for you.

These supplements are used more often in people with dry AMD. Wet AMD has other treatment options, though AREDS 2 supplements could still be part of the treatment plan.

There’s no evidence that AREDS 2 supplements help prevent early stage AMD from progressing, or that they prevent AMD from developing in the first place.

Where can you buy AREDS 2 supplements?

You can buy AREDS 2 supplements at drug stores or online without a prescription. Your eye doctor may also have them available to buy in their office.

A few different companies make AREDS 2 vitamin supplements. They are sold under different brand names but will also state “AREDS 2 formula” on the package. Some products may have additional nutrients added.

Be sure to speak to your healthcare team before taking any new supplements to prevent potential interactions with other medications.

Was this helpful?

AREDS 2 supplements are not a cure for AMD. Instead, they may slow the progression of intermediate or late stage AMD in one or both eyes for people with dry or wet AMD.

AREDS 2 supplements contain high doses of nutrients in amounts that would be difficult to replicate using whole foods, so experts do not recommend using diet alone to increase your levels of the nutrients found in the AREDS 2 supplements.

That said, research has shown that following a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, like the Mediterranean diet, can help delay the progression of AMD. Combining a nutritious diet with the AREDS 2 supplements is a smart way to take care of your health when you’re living with AMD.

The AREDS 2 formula has solid research to show that it’s beneficial for some people with AMD. It was designed to provide the exact amount of nutrients that were helpful in the AREDS 2 trial.

The AREDS 2 dosage is two supplements taken daily. You take one dose in the morning and one dose at night.

The original AREDS formula contained beta carotene. However, beta carotene is associated with a higher risk of lung cancer in smokers or people who used to smoke. The newer AREDS 2 supplements replaced beta carotene with lutein and zeaxanthin to avoid this risk.

The amount of vitamin E in AREDS 2 is much higher than the standard amount in a multivitamin. Although it’s still considered safe, vitamin E may interact with certain medications.

Make sure you tell all members of your healthcare team about the supplements and medications you take to prevent any negative interactions.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition that affects your central vision. Clinical trials through the National Eye Institute have shown that AREDS 2 supplements may slow the progression of AMD in some people. The greatest benefit is in people with intermediate AMD.

Because AMD may not have any symptoms, it’s important to get regular eye checkups. If you have AMD, your eye doctor can discuss treatment options with you and whether AREDS 2 supplements should be part of your treatment plan.