BACKGROUND: The use of over-the-counter complementary medicines and supplements is growing. Patients with age related macular degeneration (AMD) are likely to have heard of, or are possibly already taking, additional supplements that may increase their chances of retaining useful eyesight.

OBJECTIVE: This article looks specifically at evidence regarding the effects of over-the-counter oral supplements such as antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids on AMD.

DISCUSSION: Diet manipulation and supplementation has a role to play in modifying the risk of disease progression in AMD patients. A combination of vitamins C and E, beta carotene, zinc oxide and cupric oxide has been shown to reduce the rate of visual loss in dry AMD. However, commercially available preparations do not always recommend the correct intake that would match levels found in clinical trials. Other carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin may also be beneficial, intake of these can be increased by altering diet alone.

Other useful dietary changes include reducing both animal and vegetable fats and increasing the consumption of fish and nuts.