Supplements and Age-Related Eye Diseases

C. Robert Bernardino, MD


August 15, 2008


The use of supplementation with vitamins, minerals, and/or non-vitamin/non-minerals to enhance health and well-being, is an ongoing trend in the United States. According to one study, up to 52% of adults in the United States have reported taking dietary supplements.[1] Supplementation has also garnered interest in the study of age-related eye disease, buoyed by the results of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, which showed benefits with the use of antioxidants and zinc in patients with moderate or advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD).[2] Findings in other eye diseases and with various types of dietary supplements have been mixed,[3,4] but interest remains strong in the topic. The current report from the ongoing population-based Beaver Dam Study examined the use of dietary supplements and their association with age-related eye disease.


Supplements and Age-Related Eye Conditions: The Beaver Dam Eye Study

Klein BE, Knudtson MD, Lee KE, et al.
Ophthalmology. 2008;115:1203-1208


Multivitamin use increased over the course of the study, from 25.2% at baseline to 53.2% at the final visit (15 years later). However, the overall use of supplementation was not significantly associated with age-related eye disease. There were individual associations: the use of vitamins A and D, zinc, and multivitamins showed a small protective effect against cortical cataracts, whereas patients with late AMD had a higher use of vitamins A, C, E, and zinc. There was no association between intraocular pressure and dietary supplementation.


Increased use of dietary supplementation over the 15-year study period may represent both the desire of subjects to improve health as they age and the dissemination of information from healthcare providers over this time period. For example, AMD was found to precede the use of supplements -- suggesting that the increase in use among patients with late AMD reflected advice to take supplements. Indeed, although there were trends connecting certain vitamins with age-related eye disease, little can be extrapolated from these data because of the study design, which did not control for dosage.



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