High doses of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, zinc and copper sometimes help reduce the progression of age-related eye disease, or ARED, in people with intermediate macular degeneration, The New York Times reports. Supplements do not seem to help patients in the early stages of the disease.
In a study from the National Eye Institute, when people with intermediate macular degeneration take the vitamin combination called the AREDS formula, their risk of progressing to the advanced stage drops by 25 percent, according to The New York Times. Vision loss was reduced 19 percent. The research also indicates that cigarette smoking worsened the disease.
The AREDS formula is available over-the-counter, The New York Times says. However, because the doses are high and not everyone is affected, people should use the supplement only under doctors' supervision. The supplement is necessary because the levels of vitamins and minerals are too high to get just from food consumption, reports the National Eye Institute.
The AREDS formula appears to have limited side effects, NEI states. Some people in the study developed urinary tract problems that required hospitalization. Also, beta carotene seemed to cause a yellowing of the skin in certain participants. In addition, a National Cancer Institute study showed that high levels of beta carotene increase smokers' chances of developing lung cancer. Therefore, smokers with intermediate macular degeneration need to weigh the risks of taking the supplement.