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Nutritional Supplements for Age-related Macular Degeneration: A Systematic Review

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Nutritional Supplements for Age-related Macular Degeneration: A Systematic Review (January 2012)

Principal Investigator: Devan Kansagara, M.D., M.C.R.
Co-Investigators: Ken Gleitsmann, MD, MPH Melanie Gillingham, PhD, RD Michele Freeman, MPH Ana Quinones, PhD

Evidence-based Synthesis Program (ESP) Center
Portland VA Medical Center

Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs; January 2012

Download PDF: Complete Report, Executive Summary, Report, Appendices


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the developed world. In 2004, AMD affected 1.75 million persons in the United States, a number that is expected to rise to nearly 3 million by 2020 due to the aging of the population.

The severity of macular degeneration ranges from Category 1 (least severe) to Category 4 (most severe), and �advanced AMD� is defined as having geographic atrophy involving the center of the macula or features of choroidal neovascularization.

Observational studies suggest that people with dietary intakes higher in various carotenoids, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids have a lower risk of developing AMD. This has led to several supplementation trials designed to examine the ability of nutritional supplement with carotenoids, antioxidants, or omega-3 fatty acids to prevent the progression of AMD.

Our report focuses on the evidence documenting the potential benefits and harms of certain dietary supplements in patients with AMD. We conducted a systematic review of published literature to address the following key questions:

Key Question #1: In patients with age-related macular degeneration, do nutritional supplements containing carotenoids, antioxidants, or omega-3 fatty acids alone or in combination prevent functional visual loss? Key Question #2: In adult populations, what are the harms of carotenoid, antioxidant, and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation?

See also

A Synthesis of the Evidence: Nutritional Supplements for Age-Related Macular Degeneration, (VA HSR&D Management e-Brief)

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