Macular Degeneration  
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What is Macular Degeneration? How is Macular Degeneration Treated?

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.


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.

Types of Macular Degeneration   Current Research

"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.

  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.
Who Gets It? New Developments

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.


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.

Causes of Macular Degeneration Unproven Treatments

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.

  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.
Can Macular Degeneration Be Prevented?   Low Vision Rehabilitation

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.



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.


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.

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2010 Macular Degeneration Institute

Macular Degeneration Vitamin - High doses of certain dietary supplements provide the first effective treatment for the leading cause of vision loss among the elderly, a new nationwide clinical study has concluded.

The disease, macular degeneration, destroys the central portion of the retina, the light-gathering cells at the back of the eye. Among people who already have significant yellowish deposits accumulating at the back of their eyes the hallmark of the disease the supplements cut their risk of vision loss by one-fifth.

The macular degeneration vitamin supplements a combination of zinc and the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene did not appear to slow the early stages of the disease, when the yellowish deposits develop, but that is a normal part of aging and is not necessarily of concern. Almost everyone over age 70 has at least one or two of them.

As the disease progresses, the center of the field of view begins to blur, making it difficult to read, drive and recognize faces. Victims must rely on their peripheral vision, looking out of the corners of their eyes and missing much of the color and detail.

Glaucoma and cataracts strike more people than macular degeneration, but effective treatments exist for those diseases. This is the one disease for which there was nothing prior to this. At best, laser surgery can slow down the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the most severe cases of macular degeneration.

Earlier studies had indicated that people who eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables, which contain vitamin and beta-carotene, are at lower risk of developing macular degeneration. An earlier, smaller clinical study had suggested zinc might be helpful.

Among those whose disease had progressed to the intermediate stage, the zinc supplements reduced by 11 percent the risk of the disease progressing to the advanced stage, and the antioxidants reduced the risk by 10 percent. When the two were combined, the risk dropped by 19 percent. The study followed the participants for 6.5 years on average.

The daily dosages of the antioxidants used in the study were 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E and 15 milligrams of beta-carotene, a molecule that provides the color of carrots and sweet potatoes. The body converts the beta-carotene into vitamin A. The daily dosage of zinc was 80 milligrams with 2 milligrams of copper. High levels of zinc can cause a deficiency of copper in the body, which can lead to anemia.

Those amounts are well above the usual levels recommended by the Food and Drug Administration: three times as much vitamin A, eight times as much vitamin C, 13 times as much vitamin E and five times as much zinc.