When seeing our older patients in the office for a medication review, we all tend to cringe when out come the large white bottles of vitamins for their eyes. Vitalux Vitamins advertising screams: “Vitalux Healthy Eyes is a convenient, all-in-one ocular multivitamin/mineral, for adults over 50, to reduce the risk of developing AMD and maintain overall good health.”
We also see recommendations from eye professionals, advocating use of supplements to prevent or delay the onset cataracts and AMD.
We can help our patients see the evidence about supplements more clearly now, thanks to the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal. They recently Tweeted a link to evidence from the Cochrane Collaborative that vitamin supplements do not help prevent development of cataracts or AMD (visit our Quick Links section for evidence summaries and the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal Twitter feed).
We would like to leave you with this important consideration though:
"Preventing the development of" and "slowing the progression of" are two different things. We asked Dr. Jim Martin, retinal specialist at St. Joseph’s Hospital to further clarify. He states that "if [a patient] doesn't have any signs of AMD, then ... a vitamin supplement won’t help. But if [a patient] has signs of AMD, a vitamin supplement will give ... a statistical advantage in slowing the progression of AMD - specifically, slowing the progression of dry AMD to wet AMD (by 25%).”
This was also the conclusion of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) trials (check out the Quick Links for study results).