Objective: To estimate the potential public health impact of the findings of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) on reducing the number of persons developing advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) during the next 5 years in the United States.
Methods: The AREDS clinical trial provides estimates of AMD progression rates and of reduction in risk of developing advanced AMD when a high-dose nutritional supplement of antioxidants and zinc is used. These results are applied to estimates of the US population at risk, to estimate the number of people who would potentially avoid advanced AMD during 5 years if those at risk were to take a supplement such as that used in AREDS.
Results: An estimated 8 million persons at least 55 years old in the United States have monocular or binocular intermediate AMD or monocular advanced AMD. They are considered to be at high risk for advanced AMD and are those for whom the AREDS formulation should be considered. Of these people, 1.3 million would develop advanced AMD if no treatment were given to reduce their risk. If all of these people at risk received supplements such as those used in AREDS, more than 300,000 (95% confidence interval, 158,000-487,000) of them would avoid advanced AMD and any associated vision loss during the next 5 years.
Conclusion: If people at high risk for advanced AMD received supplements such as those suggested by AREDS results, the potential impact on public health in the United States would be considerable during the next 5 years.