Vitamins E and C and medical record-confirmed age-related macular degeneration in a randomized trial of male physicians

Ophthalmology. 2012 Aug;119(8):1642-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.01.053. Epub 2012 Apr 13.


Purpose: To test whether supplementation with alternate-day vitamin E or daily vitamin C affects the incidence of the diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in a large-scale randomized trial of male physicians.

Design: Randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial.

Participants: We included 14 236 apparently healthy United States male physicians aged ≥50 years who did not report a diagnosis of AMD at baseline.

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to receive 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E or placebo on alternate days, and 500 mg of vitamin C or placebo daily. Participants reported new diagnoses of AMD on annual questionnaires and medical record data were collected to confirm the reports.

Main outcome measures: Incident diagnosis of AMD responsible for a reduction in best-corrected visual acuity to ≤20/30.

Results: After 8 years of treatment and follow-up, a total of 193 incident cases of visually significant AMD were documented. There were 96 cases in the vitamin E group and 97 in the placebo group (hazard ratio [HR], 1.03; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.78-1.37). For vitamin C, there were 97 cases in the active group and 96 in the placebo group (HR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.75-1.31).

Conclusions: In a large-scale, randomized trial of United States male physicians, alternate-day use of 400 IU of vitamin E and/or daily use of 500 mg of vitamin C for 8 years had no appreciable beneficial or harmful effect on risk of incident diagnosis of AMD.

Trial registration: NCT00270647.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Combinations
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Macular Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*


  • Drug Combinations
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin E
  • Ascorbic Acid

Associated data