There’s good news for people diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration
(AMD). New treatments have made the leading cause of blindness among Americans
age 50 and older more manageable than ever before.
“Even those already diagnosed with the disease can save their vision
with treatment advances,” said Mark Comaratta, MD, of Montana Retina
Consultants and a member of Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital medical
staff. “Early detection is a critical first step.”
AMD involves damage to the macula, the small area in the retina (light-sensitive
tissue lining the back of the eye) responsible for the ability to see
fine details. Although macular degeneration reduces vision in the central
part of the retina, it usually does not affect the peripheral vision.
It may not affect vision much at all, and very rarely causes total blindness.
There are two types of AMD, dry and wet. Dry AMD is far more common, but
because the vision loss is very slow, Dr. Comaratta said, it usually isn’t
devastating. There is no treatment for dry AMD, but recent studies cited
by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) show that certain vitamin
and mineral supplements, including vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin,
zinc oxide and copper, may lower the risk for dry AMD progressing to the
advanced wet stage.
Additionally, AAO cites studies showing women may benefit from taking folic
acid and vitamins B6 and B12, and that eating nutrient-rich dark leafy
greens, and yellow, orange and other colorful fruits and vegetables may
reduce their risk for developing macular degeneration.
“Medical advances in treatments for wet AMD are amazing,” Dr.
Comaratta said. “With early detection, there is no reason to expect
significant vision loss, and we are even reversing and maintaining good
vision. The keys are: understand macular degeneration, monitor your symptoms,
and visit your ophthalmologist regularly to test your vision.”