|New Nationwide Study Will Evaluate Effect of
Antioxidants and Fish Oil on Progression of Age-Related Macular
Nearly 100 Clinical Centers Are Now Seeking 4,000 Study Participants
Ages 50 - 85 Who Have AMD
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announces a nationwide
study to see if a modified combination of vitamins, minerals, and
fish oil can further slow the progression of vision loss from AMD,
the leading cause of vision loss in the United States for people
over age 60. This new study, called the Age-Related Eye Disease
Study 2 (AREDS2), will build upon results from the earlier Age-Related
Eye Disease Study (AREDS). The original study results were released
five years ago today. The study found that high-dose antioxidant
vitamins and minerals (vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and
copper), taken by mouth, reduced the risk of progression to advanced
AMD by 25 percent, and the risk of moderate vision loss by 19 percent.
AREDS2 will refine the findings of the original study by adding
lutein and zeaxanthin (plant-derived yellow pigments that accumulate
in the macula, the small area responsible for central vision near
the center of the retina) and the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA
(derived from fish and vegetable oils) to the study formulation.
The main study objective is to determine if these nutrients will
decrease a person’s risk of progression to advanced AMD, which
often leads to vision loss. Previous observational studies have
suggested these nutrients may protect vision.
“Vision loss from AMD is an important public health issue. This
study may help us find a better way to treat this devastating disease,” said
Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., director of the NIH.
AMD damages the macula. As the disease progresses, it blurs the
patient’s central vision. AMD can take two forms, wet and dry.
Wet AMD is caused by the abnormal growth of blood vessels under
the macula. This leads to rapid loss of central vision. Wet AMD
is considered to be advanced AMD and is more severe than the dry
form. Dry AMD, the more common form, occurs when the light-sensitive
cells in the macula slowly break down. Untreated dry AMD can progress
into wet AMD.
Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute
(NEI) at NIH, said, “Nearly two million Americans have vision loss
from advanced AMD, and another seven million with AMD are at substantial
risk for vision loss. In the AREDS study, we found a combination
of vitamins and minerals that effectively slowed the progression
of AMD for some people. Now, we will conduct this more precisely-targeted
study to see if the new combination of nutrients can reduce AMD
progression even further. This study may help people at high risk
for advanced AMD maintain useful vision for a longer time.”
Emily Y. Chew, M.D., study chair and deputy director of the Division
of Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the NEI said, “The AREDS2
study is seeking 4,000 people between 50 and 85 years of age with
AMD in both eyes, or advanced AMD in one eye. They must be available
for yearly eye examinations for at least five years. Until we get
the results from AREDS2, we encourage people with AMD to visit
their eye care professional to see if they need to take the AREDS
vitamin and mineral formulation. This alone could save more than
300,000 people from vision loss over the next five years.”
For a list of study centers, eligibility requirements, and other
information, go to: http://www.nei.nih.gov/AREDS2,
or call 1-877-AREDS-80 (1-877-273-3780).
The National Eye Institute (NEI) is part of the National Institutes
of Health (NIH) and is the Federal government's lead agency for
vision research that leads to sight-saving treatments and plays
a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness. For more
information, visit the NEI Website at http://www.nei.nih.gov/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.