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Home > Macular Degeneration Prevention

Macular Degeneration Prevention

Macular Degeneration Prevention

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Important Facts About Macular Degeneration & Low Vision

DEFINITION: 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: "Dry" Form - usually progresses slowly and causes central vision loss. "Wet" 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. It 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: There is no conclusive proof as to what causes it, however, some scientists believe heredity may play a part, as may UV light exposure and malnutrition.

PREVENTION: Although there is no hard evidence as to how to prevent this disease, these steps may help:

  • Regular eye exams by your eye care specialist, who is 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 this 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, a healthy diet can't hurt and can prevent many other health problems. Some eye care specialists may recommend vitamins or minerals to supplement your diet.

TREATMENT: There is usually no treatment for the "dry" form of this disease, 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 this disease. 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 this condition. 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 retina. The procedure may be done in the 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 this disease. 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 eye care specialist to ensure they are safe and won't interfere with the timely and effective treatment of any eye problems.