By Dr. Kaushal M. Kulkarni, M.D.

What Do AREDS 2 Vitamins Do for Your Eyes?

In 2006, a five-year research study began with the objective of discovering the best supplement combination to help patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The trial was called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS 2). 

eye doctor with surgical mask

This was the second phase of this study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and was aimed to improve the first AREDS 1 trial findings. In this article, we will discover the AREDS 2 eye vitamins and how they can help your vision. 


What Vitamins Are in AREDS 2?

The AREDS 2 study had four groups of AMD patients taking different combinations of supplements. The AREDS 2 eye supplement combination that had the most positive effect on the disease was the following: 

  • 500 mg vitamin C
  • 400 IU vitamin E
  • 10 mg lutein
  • 2 mg zeaxanthin
  • 80 mg zinc
  • 2 mg copper 

What are AREDS 2 formula’s effects on AMD patients? Those with intermediate AMD or advanced AMD in one eye saw a reduction in risk of the development of advanced AMD by 25%. 

Let’s explore the ingredients of AREDS 2 eye vitamins to find out how they each contribute to our eye health. 


Vitamin C

In addition to its role in helping prevent the progression of AMD, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects your eyes. This vitamin is required for collagen to form. Collagen is a protein that makes up our connective tissue, skin, tendons, bones, and cartilage.

This protein provides structure to your eye, especially to the cornea and sclera. The cornea can filter out UV rays from the sun, and along with the sclera, work as a barrier to dirt, germs, and any other eye irritants. 

Vitamin E

Another powerful antioxidant is vitamin E. With its ability to protect from harmful free radicals that can break down eye tissue, it can help in conditions like AMD. 

However, there are many forms of vitamin E, including eight different compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols. Alpha-tocopherol is the form of vitamin E that is most active biologically in our bodies. This means this is the type that our bodies can easily absorb and use the most. 

Within the AREDS 2 formula, vitamin E has been found to act as a helper to lutein. It has been shown to enhance lutein’s ability to protect our retinal pigment epithelial cells from free radicals. 

Despite many studies showing vitamin E’s positive effect on preventing age-related cataracts, there have been some studies showing no effect. More studies are needed. 

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are both carotenoids, the pigments that give plants their characteristic colors. These pigments accumulate naturally in the human eye, and throughout our central nervous system. Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the macula of our eye, which is the area responsible for sharp vision. 

These two carotenoids have antioxidant abilities. They are particularly good at blocking out blue light that can damage our eyesight and possibly lead to AMD and other eye problems like eye strain and headaches. 


Essential for sharp vision is the mineral zinc. Among many other functions, zinc helps our bodies absorb vitamin A, which is also crucial for clear sight. It does so by allowing vitamin A to travel from the liver to the retina, where it produces melanin.

Melanin is another pigment that helps protect our eyes from UV rays.  Zinc additionally helps maintain a healthy retina, cell membranes, and eye structure. So, we know we need zinc for healthy eyes, but how much is too much? It is possible that getting too much zinc can damage retinal cells by speeding up the aging changes in your eyes.

This then increases the risk of AMD, which is why it is important to get just the right amount of zinc. The AREDS formula contained 80 mg of zinc. After the trial findings were released, the use of zinc in some trial participants increased hospitalizations for genitourinary problems, such as prostate enlargement in men.

Today, the recommended daily supplement of easily absorbed chelated zinc is about 25 mg daily. We do not recommend exceeding this amount. 


The trace mineral copper is needed to enhance the function of the other antioxidants working to protect the eyes. It is said that only a minimum of 2 mg of copper is needed to make a difference. 

Copper binds with zinc to help develop the connective tissue that makes up the eye structure. It is often added to formulas to prevent copper-deficiency anemia, which can happen if zinc is consumed in large quantities. This was the case in the AREDS study, which is why copper was added to the formula. 


People Also Ask

1. What does AREDS 2 do for your eyes?

These supplements can help reduce the risk of vision loss if you have intermediate AMD in one or both eyes. 

2. What is the best eye vitamin for macular degeneration?

The best eye vitamin for macular degeneration should contain the formulation discovered in the AREDS 2 study. 

3. Can AREDS improve vision?

They can't necessarily improve visual acuity, but these supplements can improve contrast sensitivity, motion detection, and visual-motor reaction time.

4. Does AREDS really work?

The AREDS 2 eye vitamins have been shown to be beneficial in a large, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. That being said, not every patient will see the same results. 

5. Does AREDS prevent macular degeneration?

Unfortunately we don't know for sure since the trials were not designed to answer this question.

Preserve Your Vision

AREDS2 formula vitamins have been shown to make a difference for those affected by AMD. Though the formula cannot prevent the disease, these supplements have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of progression. 

If you’d like to get started arming your eyes with the vitamins that fight against this destructive eye disease, shop our AREDS 2 vitamin products today. Our Vision Support supplements contain vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein, and many more nutrients to help preserve your vision. 


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About The Author

A graduate of Columbia University and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, rated the #1 eye hospital in the USA for the past 17 straight years.

Doctor Kaushal Kulkarni, AKA Dr. K, has treated tens of thousands of patients in eye clinics all over the world. After seeing thousands of people suffering from common eye diseases such as macular degeneration, dry eye, and glaucoma, and after seeing the global rise of digital screen use and the effects it has on our eyes and vision, Eyetamins® was finally born.

Our mission is to improve the eye health of every person on the planet by bringing you the world's best natural ingredients that have been proven to improve and protect your eye health at every age.


Dr. Kaushal Kulkarni
Board-Certified Neuro-Opthalmologist
& Founder of Eyetamins

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