Related Terms

  • AMD

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss. It is a deterioration of the central portion of the retina called the macula. The macula is needed to create focused and detailed central vision. Later stages of AMD can make it hard to see fine details. Over time, AMD progresses to legal blindness.

The cause of AMD is not clear. It may result from a combination of genetics and environment. However, smoking is known to increase the risk of AMD.

AMD is classified as:

  • Early—The presence of medium-sized drusen, yellow deposits found under the retina. There are no symptoms at this stage.
  • Intermediate—Large drusen are present. Most people do not have symptoms, but some vision loss may occur.
  • Late—Vision loss and macular damage are present. Macular damage may consist of drusen, growth of new blood vessels, and/or retinal bleeding. These types include:
    • Dry—An area of the retina becomes diseased. The central vision is gradually lost. Dry AMD accounts for the majority of cases.
    • Wet—As dry AMD worsens, new blood vessels may begin to grow. These new blood vessels often leak blood and fluid under the macula. Wet AMD is not common, but it accounts for most cases of blindness from this disease.

There is no cure for AMD, but treatment may help slow its progress. Options include medications, lasers, photodynamic therapy, or surgery.

Natural Therapies

Antioxidant vitamins and minerals may be considered alternative therapy for some conditions. With AMD, they may be part of the overall treatment plan will be covered here. Keep in mind that eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens) may reduce the risk of developing AMD.

Likely Effective

  • Antioxidants vitamins and minerals—Daily supplements of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc may slow visual loss and reduce the risk of progression to more advanced stages in those with at least intermediate disease. A1,A4-A5
    • Note: Supplementation with antioxidants is unlikely to reduce risk of developing AMD.A2-A3
    • Note: High doses of antioxidants and zinc may cause side effects

Possibly Effective

  • Zinc aloneB1
    • Note: High doses of antioxidants and zinc may cause side effects
  • Lutein or zeaxanthin (carotenoids found in concentrated amounts in the macula)—Alone or in combination with antioxidant vitamins and minerals.C1-C5

Unlikely to Be Effective

  • Vitamin E D1-D3
  • Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil)E1,E3 , but may reduce the risk of developing AMDE2

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about all herbs or supplements you are taking. Some may interact with your treatment plan or health conditions.

In general, antioxidants, vitamins, and supplements are safe when taken as directed. Do not exceed the recommended daily upper intake levels (ULs).

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