Initial Posting: 2/24/2016    Last Update: 3/23/2019
Answer: As discussed in the Vision Supplements Review, lutein, zeaxanthin and zinc supplements may help to slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, but won't improve the condition. People with age-related macular degeneration who have low blood levels of lutein may be more likely to benefit from lutein supplements. There is also evidence that lutein and zeaxanthin may only help in people with low macular pigment density.
Two of the largest studies on supplements for eye health, known as the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS and AREDS 2), have helped narrow in on the best combination of ingredients for AMD. ConsumerLab.com has found that many supplements promoted as "vision formulas" do not necessarily contain the right formula. However, we've identified one product that most closely resembles this formula, as well as several others which may be helpful.
Higher intakes of calcium from foods have been associated with a decreased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, but there is mixed evidence as to whether getting calcium from supplements decreases or increases the risk.
Interestingly, while it has been shown that people with higher intakes of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA from their diet (i.e. from one or more servings of fish per week) are 42% less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration compared to those who eat less than one serving of fish per month, adding EPA and DHA from fish oil to the AREDS formulation did not provide additional benefit. (For more about the benefits of eating fish vs. taking fish oil supplements, and our tests of products, see the Canned Tuna and Salmon Review). In addition to fish, another food associated with reduced risk of AMD is oranges.
For more information about the evidence, dosage, tips for choosing and using supplements for age-related macular degeneration — as well as our tests and reviews of popular products, see the Vision Supplements Review >>