Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that can blur the center of your vision. It’s most common in older adults.

Taking certain vitamins and minerals, called AREDS2 supplements, is a common treatment for AMD. These supplements won’t cure AMD, but they can slow it down. If you have AMD, ask your eye doctor if taking these supplements is right for you. 

Who can AREDS2 supplements help?

Research shows that 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, 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.  

AREDS2 supplements can’t prevent AMD, and they won’t help if you only have early AMD. If you have early AMD, get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year so your eye doctor can check to see if your AMD is progressing. 

AREDS2 supplements also won’t help if you have vision loss in both eyes from late AMD. If this is the case, talk with your doctor about resources and supports that can help you make the most of your remaining sight.

People with vision loss from wet AMD may also have other treatment options available — learn more about treatments for vision loss caused by wet AMD.

What vitamins and minerals are in AREDS2 supplements?

Research shows that you can help stop vision loss by taking all of these vitamins and minerals every day: 

  • 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C 
  • 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E 
  • 80 mg zinc 
  • 10 mg lutein 
  • 2 mg copper 
  • 2 mg zeaxanthin 

AREDS2 supplements are made with all of these ingredients in a single pill. 

While some of these vitamins and minerals are also found in healthy foods that you may already be eating (like leafy greens), only the specially made AREDS2 supplements have the right amounts of these ingredients. Even regular daily multivitamins don’t have all of the ingredients needed to help your eyes if you have AMD.  

Where can I get AREDS2 supplements?

You can buy supplements to treat AMD in many drugstores or online.  

When you are choosing an AREDS2 supplement, check the ingredients list to see if it has everything you need. Some types of supplements have different ingredients than what’s recommended for AMD.  

Ask your doctor if they recommend a certain brand or type of AREDS2 supplements for you. 

Are there any risks from taking AREDS2 supplements?

AREDS2 supplements are safe for most people. But, because AREDS2 supplements contain large amounts of the vitamins and minerals, they may not be safe for everyone. Taking large amounts of nutritional supplements can sometimes change the way your body uses other important vitamins and minerals. Or it can change the effects of other medicines you are taking. 

As with any new medicine, talk to your eye doctor and your primary care doctor before you start taking AREDS2 supplements. They can help you think about the benefits and any risks. 

If you smoke or you used to smoke, make sure to take the new “AREDS2” supplements, not the older “AREDS” supplements. The older version of these supplements contained beta-carotene, which can increase the risk of lung cancer in people who smoke or used to smoke. 

How were AREDS2 supplements developed?

In 2 studies, called the Age-related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2), scientists at the National Eye Institute tested whether certain vitamins and minerals could help prevent vision loss from AMD.  

The research showed that people with AMD who took these vitamins and minerals were less likely to lose their vision than people with AMD who didn’t take the supplements.

Last updated: July 1, 2019