Vitamin claims for treating age-related macular
Research shows that of 11 popular supplements
analyzed all have misleading claims
9, 2014 - Americans spend billions of dollars each year on nutritional
supplements. And, for senior citizens with aging eyes, purchasing eye
vitamins that claim to help protect vision is an attractive proposition.
Unfortunately, a new study finds these claims for most products from the
top-selling brands don't match the scientific evidence, especially for
treating the leading cause of blindness among older adults,
age-related macular degeneration
study published online in
Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of
Ophthalmology, looked at 11 of the top-selling ocular nutritional
supplement products and analyzed their content. They found that only
four of the 11 had equivalent ingredients and dosages of the formulas
proven effective in slowing the progression of a common eye disease in
In addition, while all 11 products studied claimed
to “support,” “protect,” “help” or “promote” vision and eye health on
their packaging, none of them specified that there is scientific proof
that vitamins can be used in the primary prevention of eye disease.
macular degeneration (AMD) is the deterioration of the eye's
macula, which is the central part of the retina that enables the eye to
see fine details clearly. Recommended treatment for AMD at certain
stages of the disease includes nutritional supplements.
Age-Related Eye Disease Study
(AREDS) found in 2001 that a specific formula of nutritional
supplements containing high doses of antioxidants and zinc could slow
the worsening of AMD in those who have intermediate AMD and those with
advanced AMD in only one eye.
A follow-up study that concluded in 2011,
AREDS2, determined that
the formula was still effective if one ingredient, beta-carotene (a form
of vitamin A), was replaced with related nutrients, lutein and
zeaxanthin. Beta-carotene was substituted in AREDS2 due to its link to
increased risk of lung cancer in smokers.
The two studies prompted a surge in sales of eye
supplements which are marketed as containing the AREDS or AREDS2
In reality, only a specific formula of nutritional
AREDS2 formulas) has been proven effective in slowing the
progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and only in those
who had already been diagnosed with intermediate or advanced AMD.
To test whether the products are consistent with
the studies’ findings, researchers compared the ingredients in
top-selling brands to the exact formulas proven effective by AREDS and
AREDS2. The researchers – based at Yale-New Haven Hospital-Waterbury
Hospital, Penn State College of Medicine, Providence VA Medical Center
and Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University – identified the
five top-selling brands based on market research collected from June
2011 to June 2012, and analyzed the brands’ 11 products.
They found that, while all of the products studied
contained the ingredients from the AREDS or AREDS2 formulas:
● Only four of the products had equivalent doses
of AREDS or AREDS2 ingredients
● Another four of the products contained lower
doses of all the AREDS or AREDS2 ingredients
● Four of the products also included additional
vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts that are not part of the AREDS or
In addition, while all 11 of the products’
promotional materials contained claims that the supplements “support,”
“protect,” “help” or “promote” vision and eye health, none had
statements specifying that nutritional supplements have only been proven
effective in people with specific stages of AMD.
There were also no statements clarifying that
currently there is not sufficient evidence to support the routine use of
nutritional supplements for primary prevention of eye diseases such as
AMD and cataracts.
“With so many vitamins out there claiming to
support eye health, it’s very easy for patients to be misled into buying
supplements that may not bring about the desired results,” said first
author Jennifer J. Yong, M.D.
“Our findings underscore the importance of
ophthalmologists educating patients that they should only take the
proven combination of nutrients and doses for AMD according to
guidelines established by AREDS and AREDS2.
It’s also crucial that physicians remind patients
that, at this time, vitamins have yet to be proven clinically effective
in preventing the onset of eye diseases such as cataracts and AMD.”
Recommendations from American Academy of
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends
ophthalmologists consider antioxidant vitamin and mineral
supplementation, per the AREDS and AREDS2 trials, for patients with
intermediate or advanced AMD. It also maintains that, based on the
six-year timeframe of the AREDS trial, there is no evidence to support
the use of these supplements for patients who have less than
intermediate AMD. Ophthalmologists can read the Academy’s AMD Preferred
Practice Pattern guidelines at
Dietary supplements are neither evaluated nor
regulated for efficacy or safety under the Dietary Supplement Health and
Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994.
In addition, FDA approval is not required for
dietary supplements to be marketed.
Notable in-press studies recently published
online in Ophthalmology include:
It also found that prolonged delays in initiation
may limit the therapeutic effect and that, although uncommon,
development of proliferative diabetic retinopathy still occurs in some
eyes undergoing anti-VEGF therapy. This effect may be related to the
presence of macular nonprofusion.
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology The American
Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world's
largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, serving more than
32,000 members worldwide. The Academy's mission is to advance the
lifelong learning and professional interests of ophthalmologists to
ensure that the public can obtain the best possible eye care. For more
information, visit www.aao.org.
Academy is also a leading provider of eye care information to the
public. The Academy's EyeSmart program educates the public about the
importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision.
EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information
about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the
Spanish-language version of the program. Visit
www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to
About Ophthalmology Ophthalmology, the
official journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, publishes
original, peer-reviewed, clinically-applicable research. Topics include
the results of clinical trials, new diagnostic and surgical techniques,
treatment methods, technology assessments, translational science reviews
and editorials. For more information, visit www.aaojournal.org.
Financial Relief for Volkswagen Diesel Owners
You may be eligible for money damages if you owned or leased one of these VW, Porsche or Audi vehicles.
In the major scandal of 2015, Volkswagen cheated you and the world. They rigged diesel emission controls so you, nor regulators, would know how much pollution their cars were adding to our environment.
They were caught and have reserved $7.3 billion to help "make it right" with victims.
If you owned or leased one of these vehicles, contact us now.
Janicek Law attorneys are actively pursuing these cases against VW. Do Not Wait...