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Macular Degeneration: Preserving Eyesight


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Q: My mother, 63, recently learned she has early signs of age-related macular degeneration. What can she do to preserve her eyesight? Would certain nutritional supplements help?

A: Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the most common of all retinal disorders (damage to the eye's retina) and the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in older adults.

Recommended Related to Macular Degeneration

Age-Related Macular Degeneration Overview

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over age 60. It occurs when the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. Because the disease develops as a person ages, it is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although macular degeneration is almost never a totally blinding condition, it can be a source of significant visual disability. There are...

Read the Age-Related Macular Degeneration Overview article > >

Researchers have identified both hereditary and environmental factors. Although you can't change your genes, you can help preserve your delicate retina if you stop smoking and reduce harmful UV ray exposure from sunlight by wearing protective eyewear.

Most vision loss from ARMD is the result of leakage from abnormal blood vessels that grow underneath the retina. Prompt treatment is essential, so tell your mother to test her vision regularly with the Amsler Grid, which she can get from her eye doctor. Have her tape the grid to the bathroom mirror or the refrigerator door, and notify her eye doctor immediately if she notices any changes in how well she sees the lines on the grid.

As for supplements, certain amounts of vitamins C and E, beta carotene, zinc, and copper reduced participants' risk of developing advanced ARMD by 25%, according to the National Eye Institute's Age-Related Eye Disease Study.

William Lloyd, MD, WebMD Vision Expert

 

Reviewed on January 01, 2007

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