Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that can blur the center of your vision. If you have intermediate AMD in 1 or both eyes, special dietary supplements called AREDS 2 can help slow down vision loss.

Are AREDS 2 supplements right for me?

It depends what stage of AMD you have. If you have intermediate AMD in 1 or both eyes, they may be able to stop it from turning into late AMD.

AREDS 2 supplements can’t prevent early AMD from developing into intermediate AMD. If your eye doctor tells you that you have early AMD, get a dilated eye exam at least once a year so your doctor can keep track of any changes.

If you have late AMD in only 1 eye, AREDS 2 may slow down the progression of AMD in the other eye. If you already have late AMD in both eyes, AREDS 2 supplements probably won’t help. But low vision resources can help you make the most of your remaining sight.

If you have wet AMD (a type of late AMD), you may have other treatment options.

Are there any risks or side effects?

Because AREDS 2 supplements have very large amounts of vitamins and minerals, they may change the way your body digests food. They can also change the way that other medicines work in your body.

An older type of these supplements — called “AREDS” instead of “AREDS 2” — have beta-carotene, which can increase the risk of lung cancer in people who smoke or used to smoke. AREDS 2 supplements don’t have beta-carotene. So if you smoke or used to smoke, make sure to choose the newer AREDS 2 supplements.

Always talk with your doctor before you start taking a new medicine or supplement — and tell them about all the other medicines, vitamins, and supplements you take. Your doctor can help you understand the risks and benefits of taking AREDS 2.

What are the ingredients?

AREDS 2 supplements are made of large amounts of certain vitamins and minerals.

Ingredient Amount in AREDS 2
Vitamin C 500 milligrams (mg)
Vitamin E 400 International Units (IU)
Copper (cupric oxide) 2 mg
Zinc 80 mg
Beta-carotene ---------
Lutein 10 mg
Zeaxanthin 2 mg

You can’t get the right mix of these vitamins and minerals from food or from regular multivitamins. Only AREDS 2 supplements have the right ingredients in the right amounts to help slow vision loss from AMD.

Where can I get AREDS 2 supplements?

You can buy AREDS 2 supplements in many drugstores or online.

When you’re choosing a supplement, check the ingredients list to make sure it has all of the vitamins and minerals in the exact amounts listed above.

Ask your doctor if they recommend a certain brand of AREDS 2 supplements for you.

How were AREDS 2 supplements developed?

Scientists at NEI studied these supplements in 2 clinical trials, called the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2). They found that people with intermediate or late AMD who took these supplements every day were less likely to lose their central vision.

If you have more questions about AREDS 2 supplements or the older AREDS supplements, find the answers in this Q&A.

Last updated: June 22, 2021