A systematic review on zinc for the prevention and treatment of age-related macular degeneration

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Jun 12;54(6):3985-98. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-11552.


Purpose: The objective of this systematic review was to examine the evidence on zinc intake from foods and supplements in the primary prevention and treatment of AMD.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), prospective cohort, retrospective cohort, and case-control studies that investigated zinc intake from foods and/or supplements, and AMD in men and women with a mean age of 50 years or older were included. Medline and Cochrane Central were searched from inception to February 2012 and November 2012, respectively. Data extraction and quality appraisal were done on all eligible studies.

Results: TEN STUDIES WERE INCLUDED: four RCTs, four prospective cohort, and two retrospective cohort studies. Age-related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) showed zinc treatment to significantly reduce the risk of progression to advanced AMD. The risk of visual acuity loss was of similar magnitude, but not statistically significant. Two RCTs reported statistically significant increases in visual acuity in early AMD patients and one RCT showed no effect of zinc treatment on visual acuity in advanced AMD patients. Results from six cohort studies on associations between zinc intake and incidence of AMD were inconsistent.

Conclusions: Current evidence on zinc intake for the prevention of AMD is inconclusive. Based on the strength of AREDS, we can conclude that zinc treatment may be effective in preventing progression to advanced AMD. Zinc supplementation alone may not be sufficient to produce clinically meaningful changes in visual acuity.

Keywords: age-related macular degeneration; systematic review; zinc.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / diagnosis
  • Macular Degeneration / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Visual Acuity
  • Zinc Compounds / administration & dosage*


  • Zinc Compounds