Anti aging guide

Macular Degeneration, An Age-Related Disease



What is macular degeneration (ARMD) and how to treat it.

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) causes millions of cases of visual impairment every year world-wide. It affects one in four Americans between the ages of 65 and 75, and it is estimated that incidence of ARMD will increase by 400 per cent in the next 30 years. It is the commonest cause of partial blindness in Europe. Even if you consider yourself ‘young’, you still need to take steps now to prevent ARMD in the future.

The macula is a part of the retina, the light-sensitive layer of the eye which picks up visual images. It is responsible for the central part of our vision, which explains why people with ARMD may have dark spots in the center of their vision.

For some unknown reason, women are twice as likely as men to develop ARMD. People over the age of 70, those who have been exposed to sunlight for long periods and heavy smokers are more at risk than the general population. People who have blue or green eyes have a high risk of developing ARMD.

ARMD comes in two types: the ‘dry’ form and the ‘wet’ form. The `dry’ form is the more common of the two and in this the loss of vision is gradual. In the ‘wet’ form, the macula is flooded with liquid from swollen and leaking arteries from under the retina. This may cause sudden loss of vision but no pain.

People who have macular degeneration may have difficulty seeing the center of an image while the peripheral vision remains normal. This can cause difficulty in:

  • reading
  • watching television
  • writing
  • anything else which requires detailed vision

Fortunately, macular degeneration doesn’t usually cause complete blindness.

The causes of macular degeneration are not clear. It is connected to age — as people live longer, the likelihood of ARMD increases. Damage caused by free radicals and by sun radiation has been blamed, at least partially.

Laser Treatment for Macular Degeneration

Laser treatment can be effective in some cases of macular degeneration but it isn’t always satisfactory in the long term. A diet containing high levels of antioxidants has been suggested by some authorities, both to prevent and to treat the condition. Cataract is another eye disease which may be amenable to treatment with antioxidants and it may be worth taking supplements to deal with both diseases.

Suitable supplements are the vitamins C, E and beta carotene, the minerals selenium and zinc, and ginkgo biloba and bilberry extracts, which improve blood circulation in the retina. Also recommended are isoflavones, lycopene and lutein. Some doctors endorse the use of up to 25,000 units of beta carotene a day to help slow down the appearance of ARMD. Lutein, in particular, has been touted as a good preventor of the disease. Foods high in lutein are corn, broccoli, spinach and tomato sauce.

As with the case of cataract, protecting your eyes from strong sunshine is recommended. If you want to be safe, then slip, slap, slop, sling.

An experimental treatment which claims a good success rate in treating ARMD is a technique called iapheresis filtration’. This makes use of special biological filters to clear from the blood abnormal proteins and other impurities which are thought to be involved in macular degeneration. This technique is available in a handful of centers in the USA, but other centers in Europe and elsewhere plan to offer this facility if more research confirms the initial benefits.

A DIY Test for ARMD

Ask somebody to draw a series of straight lines 1cm (1/2in) apart. These should be criss-crossed by another set of horizontal lines each 1cm apart, at right angles to the first set, like a net. Look at the center of this net covering one eye at a time. If the lines appear blurred, bent or twisted, then something may be wrong and you need to see a specialist for further tests.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - March 24, 2012 at 4:53 am