The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) is a major clinical trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute, one of the Federal government's National Institutes of Health. The study took 6 1/2 years and involved 4,757 participants, 55-80 years of age, in 11 clinical centers nationwide.
The AREDS was designed to learn more about the natural history and risk factors of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract and to evaluate the effect of high doses of antioxidants and zinc on the progression of AMD and cataract.
Results from the AREDS showed that high levels of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduce the risk of advanced AMD and its associated vision loss. These same nutrients had no significant effect on the development or progression of cataract.
Scientists found that people at high risk of developing advanced stages of AMD, a leading cause of vision loss, lowered their risk by about 25 percent when treated with a high-dose combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc. In the same high risk group -- which includes people with intermediate AMD, or advanced AMD in one eye but not the other eye -- the nutrients reduced the risk of vision loss caused by advanced AMD by about 19 percent.
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