AREDS and AREDS2 formulas are nutritional supplements that reduce the risk of progressing to advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The formulas are based on the NEI-funded Age-Related Eye Diseases Studies (AREDS and AREDS2). AMD can cause blurriness or missing regions in central vision and is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness among older Americans.  

The AREDS and AREDS2 formulas are combinations of daily high-dose vitamins and minerals. These nutritional supplements won’t prevent or cure AMD, but they can slow it. If you have AMD, ask your eye doctor if taking one of these supplements is right for you. 

Who benefits from AREDS/AREDS2 supplements?

Research shows that AREDS/AREDS2 supplements may help 

  • people who have intermediate AMD in one eye or both eyes 
  • people who have late AMD in only one eye  

If you have intermediate AMD, AREDS/AREDS2 supplements can lower your risk of late AMD. If you already have late AMD in one eye, the supplements can lower your risk of getting late AMD in your other eye.  

Who won't benefit from AREDS/AREDS2 supplements?

AREDS and AREDS2 supplements won’t help

  • people who want to prevent AMD
  • people with early AMD

If you have early AMD, get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year to monitor changes. 

If you have late AMD, talk with your doctor about low vision resources to help make the most of your remaining sight.

Treatment is available for people with vision loss from wet AMD. Learn more about treatments for wet AMD (advanced neovascular AMD).

What vitamins and minerals are in the AREDS and AREDS2 supplements?

NEI research shows that people with intermediate AMD can slow vision loss by taking the AREDS or AREDS2 formula daily.

Commercially available formulas based on AREDS/AREDS2
Nutrient AREDS formula* AREDS2 formula
Vitamin C 500 mg

500 mg

Vitamin E 400 IU 400 IU
Beta-carotene 15 mg -
Copper (cupric oxide)** 2 mg 2 mg
Lutein - 10 mg
Zeaxanthin - 2 mg
Zinc 80 mg 80 mg

*Not recommended for current or former smokers
**Added to avoid zinc-related copper deficiency
mg = milligrams
IU = international units

AREDS/AREDS2 supplements are made with all of these ingredients.

While these nutrients can be found in foods, the AREDS and AREDS2 supplements contain greater amounts—at levels that would be difficult to get through diet alone. Many multivitamins contain some of the same nutrients as the AREDS/AREDS2 supplements, but only the AREDS and AREDS2 formulas have been clinically proven to slow AMD. 

Where can I get AREDS/AREDS2 supplements?

You can buy AREDS and AREDS2 supplements in many drugstores or online. Choose one that contains the ingredients and dosages tested in the AREDS/AREDS2 clinical trials. Ask your doctor for help choosing a specific brand and formula.  

Are there risks from taking AREDS/AREDS2 supplements?

AREDS2 supplements are safe for most people. If you are a current or former smoker, take the AREDS2 formula; NOT the AREDS formula, which contains beta-carotene. Beta-carotene supplements used in the AREDS and AREDS2 clinical trials showed an increased risk of lung cancer in current and former smokers.

The high levels of vitamins and minerals in the AREDS/AREDS2 supplements can change the way your body uses other nutrients. They can also change how medicines work. Talk with your eye doctor and your primary care doctor before taking an AREDS/AREDS2 supplement to help you weigh benefits and risks. 

Last updated: November 19, 2020