A dietary supplement formula effectively slows the progression of age-related macular degeneration, according to a new investigation funded by the National Institutes of Health.

AMD is a treatable but incurable eye disease that can result in blindness. It is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults aged 50 and older. In the new Age-Related Eye Disease Studies 2 study, researchers tracked the visual health of more than 3,800 patients with AMD who took a revised version of a successfully tested supplement over 10 years.

The original supplement formula significantly slowed the course of the disease in an earlier study. It contained 500 mg vitamin C, 400 international units vitamin E, 2 mg copper, 80 mg zinc and 15 mg beta-carotene. But patients who smoked and took beta-carotene were found to have a much higher risk of lung cancer than expected. In an effort to reduce this risk, investigators tested a new formula that substituted two other antioxidants, lutein (10 mg ) and zeaxanthin (2 mg), for the beta-carotene.

The revamped formula not only reduced the lung cancer risk, but is even more effective at lowering the risk of AMD progression, reported lead author Emily Chew, M.D., of the National Eye Institute.

The goal was to create “an equally effective supplement formula that could be used by anyone, whether or not they smoke,” said Chew, in a statement. “This 10-year data confirms that not only is the new formula safer, it’s actually better at slowing AMD progression.”
Full findings were published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

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