Vitalux is a drug created by the manufacturer Novartis to promote eye health among aging people. Vitalux is an over-the-counter multivitamin designed for use as a supplement by people who are at risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). According to the AMD Alliance International, AMD affects between 25 million to 30 million people worldwide. AMD may be preventable through proper nutrition, according to the AMD Alliance International.
The major side effects for Vitalux were found among smokers and people who had recently stopped smoking. A clinical study discovered that smokers and recent ex-smokers who took a beta carotene supplement, which is included in the standard formula for Vitalux, experienced higher incidence of lung cancer and increased growth of tumors on the lungs, as well as increased risk of death from cancer, lung disease and heart disease. Additionally, lutein supplements, which are found in some varieties of Vitalux, should not be taken by anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding.
Because of the prevalence of major side effects for smokers and ex-smokers, Vitalux is marketed in several types to eliminate the side effects for those groups of people. While the standard form of Vitalux contains beta carotene, Vitalux-S is a special formula designed for smokers that does not include a beta carotene supplement in order to eliminate the risk of negative side effects of the multivitamin for smokers.
The Vitalux multivitamin was created based on a 1992 study by the U.S. National Eye Institute known as the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), which attempted to establish a link between nutrition and eye function among aging people. The study found that a dietary supplement of beta carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc and copper reduced the risk of AMD by 25 percent among those at highest risk for the disease. The Vitalux AREDS formula is the same formula used by the AREDS formula, with the addition of lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds found in the macula of the eye and naturally occurring in foods, while the Vitalux-S formula was created later to eliminate the risk of negative side effects for smokers.
Patients often experience AMD in conjunction with other serious health conditions, such as depression, hypertension, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Treating risk for AMD with Vitalux may result in complications related to any of these comorbid conditions, and patients who have these conditions should consult their doctor before adding any multivitamin supplement to their daily routine.
Approval and Safety
While Vitalux is the only multivitamin formulated specifically for AMD, the FDA has denied the claims of treating eye disorders made by the entire family of drugs and supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin. Because the FDA denies the claims of the drug manufacturers producing Vitalux and other related supplements, no official investigation has been made into the possible safety concerns and side effects.