IMPORTANCE The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) formulation for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) contains vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and zinc with copper. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) assessed the value of substituting lutein/zeaxanthin in the AREDS formulation because of the demonstrated risk for lung cancer from beta carotene in smokers and former smokers and because lutein and zeaxanthin are important components in the retina. OBJECTIVE To further examine the effect of lutein/zeaxanthin supplementation on progression to late AMD. DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 is a multicenter, double-masked randomized trial of 4203 participants, aged 50 to 85 years, at risk for developing late AMD; 66%of patients had bilateral large drusen and 34%had large drusen and late AMD in 1 eye. INTERVENTIONS In addition to taking the original or a variation of the AREDS supplement, participants were randomly assigned in a factorial design to 1 of the following 4 groups: placebo; lutein/zeaxanthin, 10 mg/2 mg; omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty 3 acids, 1.0 g; or the combination. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Documented development of late AMD by central, masked grading of annual retinal photographs or by treatment history. RESULTS In exploratory analysis of lutein/zeaxanthin vs no lutein/zeaxanthin, the hazard ratio of the development of late AMD was 0.90 (95%CI, 0.82-0.99; P = .04). Exploratory analyses of direct comparison of lutein/zeaxanthin vs beta carotene showed hazard ratios of 0.82 (95%CI, 0.69-0.96; P = .02) for development of late AMD, 0.78 (95%CI, 0.64-0.94; P = .01) for development of neovascular AMD, and 0.94 (95%CI, 0.70-1.26; P = .67) for development of central geographic atrophy. In analyses restricted to eyes with bilateral large drusen at baseline, the direct comparison of lutein/zeaxanthin vs beta carotene showed hazard ratios of 0.76 (95%CI, 0.61-0.96; P = .02) for progression to late AMD, 0.65 (95%CI, 0.49-0.85; P = .002) for neovascular AMD, and 0.98 (95%CI, 0.69-1.39; P = .91) for central geographic atrophy. CONCLUSION AND RELEVANCE The totality of evidence on beneficial and adverse effects from AREDS2 and other studies suggests that lutein/zeaxanthin could be more appropriate than beta carotene in the AREDS-type supplements.
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