December 12, 2018

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Macular Degeneration Info

Macular Degeneration is an eye condition in which the macula, a sensitive area in the retina responsible for central and detail vision, is damaged, often causing loss of central vision.

Types of Macular Degeneration

“Dry” (Atrophic) Form – usually progresses slowly and causes central vision loss. “Wet” (Exudative) Form – rarer, and more severe. May progress rapidly causing significant central vision loss.

Who Gets It?

Most common in people over 60, but can appear as early as age 40. Macular degeneration is the most common cause of severe vision loss among people over 65, and, as life expectancy increases, the disease is becoming an increasingly significant problem.

Causes of Macular Degeneration

There is no conclusive proof as to what causes macular degeneration, however, some scientists believe heredity may play a part, as may UV light exposure and malnutrition.

Can Macular Degeneration Be Prevented?

Although there is no hard evidence as to how to prevent macular degeneration, these steps may help:
Regular eye exams by your eye care professional. Ophthalmologists and optometrists are specially trained to detect many vision-threatening conditions even before you develop symptoms. The earlier the problems are detected, the better chance of preventing vision loss.

Protection from UV-A and UV-B rays. Some studies have suggested that prolonged or frequent exposure to UV-A and UV-B rays may be a factor in macular degeneration and other eye conditions, so always wear your sunglasses that block 99 to 100% of UV rays when outdoors.

Proper nutrition. Although there is no concrete evidence that nutrition plays a role in macular degeneration, a healthy diet can’t hurt and can prevent many other health problems. Some ophthalmologists and optometrists may recommend vitamin or minerals to supplement your diet.

Low Vision Rehabilitation

This can help people who have experienced mild to severe vision loss adjust to their condition and continue to enjoy active and independent lifestyles. Rehabilitation may involve anything from adjusting the lighting in your home to learning to use low vision aids to help you read and perform daily tasks. Your eye care professional can arrange rehabilitation or refer you to organizations that can help.

How is Macular Degeneration Treated?

There is usually no treatment for the “dry” form of macular degeneration, but low vision rehabilitation can help those with significant vision loss to maintain an excellent quality of life. Laser surgery can sometimes treat the “wet” form and low vision rehabilitation can help those with vision loss.

Current Research

There is a great deal of research and several major scientific studies being conducted to find the causes and develop effective treatments for all types of macular degeneration. Visit the National Eye Institute Web site for additional information.

New Developments

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is one of the most promising new treatments for the “wet” type of macular degeneration. It involves the injection of a drug, Visudyne, into the bloodstream, followed by a brief laser treatment. The laser “activates” the drug, which helps destroy abnormal blood vessels in the eye that damage the macula. The procedure may be done in an ophthalmologist’s office, and several treatments may be necessary for it to be effective.

Unproven Treatments

Be wary of any treatment that promises to restore vision, or cure or prevent macular degeneration. There are so many so-called “miracle cures” advertised (often in magazines or on the Internet) that have not been adequately tested for safety or efficacy. These treatments may be expensive and are generally not covered by insurance. If you are considering trying a new or untested treatment, make sure you talk to your EyeMD to ensure they are safe and won’t interfere with the timely and effective treatment of any eye problems.

Support

Adjusting to vision loss can be difficult at first. Your eye care professional may be able to recommend some support groups for people with low vision. You can support friends and family by encouraging them in their rehabilitation efforts and providing help (such as rides to appointments) when needed.

Macular Degeneration does not respond to all vitamins. The Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) run by the National Eye Institute found that the following ingredients were found to slow the progression of macular degeneration in those patients with intermediate or advanced disease. It is believed that the high levels of anti-oxidants and Zinc promote the continued health of the retina and tissues surrounding the retina. 

Vitamin Amount Per Serving % Daily Value
Vitamin C 500 mg 555%
Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene) 15 mg 150%
Vitamin E 400 IU 1000%
Zinc (Zinc Oxide) 80 mg 533%
Copper (Cupric Oxide) 2 mg 100%

Newer research has found that when similar anti-oxidants are added with Lutein and Zeaxanthin, that patients with macular degeneration may actually experience visual improvement.

Resources:

  • AREDS2.info – Explains latest updates in Age Related Eye Disease Study 2, including addition of Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
  • AboutEyeVitamins.com – Not all eye vitamins are equal. Choose wisely to sidestep ineffective formulations, and stick with a quality brand you trust for the best vision benefits.
  • Cure-Eye-Floaters.Com – As an alternative to vitreous surgery, innovative nutritional supplements can help to reduce the symptoms of eye floaters.
  • Reverse-Macular-Degeneration.Com – Macular degeneration can be stabilized with eye vitamin therapy (dry macular degeneration) and bleeding arrested with injected medications (wet macular degeneration), but can it be reversed?
  • Macular-Degeneration-Cure.Com – There is no cure for macular degeneration. As with so many other chronic illnesses, prevention is the best strategy. If macular degeneration has already manifested, the next best strategy involves taking steps to slow its progression.