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Macular Degeneration A Growing Concern

Wed 11th Mar 2009 - 5:08 pm - Back to Article Selection

Macular Degeneration, also called age related macular degeneration is a condition in which the centre part of the retina, the macula, loses the ability to focus light. This leads to a loss of vision in the central or straight ahead area of the eye but does not affect peripheral vision. This makes certain activities such as driving or reading nearly impossible. This condition normally affects people over the age of fifty. It has, however been seen in people much younger. When seen in younger people, the condition is usually genetic. People who suffer from myopia (short-sightedness) may be more apt to develop this condition due to the elongated shape of the eyeball. Contact lenses worn to correct the myopia will not effect the development of macular degeneration.

With the number of older Americans steadily growing, the occurrence of macular degeneration is steadily increasing. While heredity plays an important role in who will develop this condition, there are some steps that can be taken to help prevent or slow its onset. UV light is believed to be a contributing factor. It is, therefore, recommended that eye protection in the form of sunglasses and/or a brimmed hat be worn outside. Contact lenses will not provide adequate UV protection. Diet is another factor that can help prevent or slow the onset of macular degeneration. A diet rich in leafy green vegetables, fruits high in vitamin C and fish high in omega-3 oils is highly recommended. Dietary supplements high in carotenoids, vitamins C & E and omega-3 may also be helpful.

Macular degeneration can be either dry, caused by decreased blood flow to the central part of the retina, or wet, caused by abnormal blood vessels in the central part of the retina occluding a portion of the visual receptors. At the present time, no treatment exists for dry macular degeneration. Some patients have, however, achieved some improvement with vitamin and mineral supplements. The drugs Lucentis, Macugen, and Avastin have been used with some success to treat wet macular degeneration. Avastin is often used "off label", meaning it was not specifically developed to treat macular degeneration. It is, however, much less expensive than the other drugs. Photodynamic therapy using the drug Visudyne and a "cold" laser has also been used successfully. All of these options are only treatments, however. There is currently no cure for macular degeneration available.

Disclaimer: The author is not a medical doctor, optician, ophthalmologist or any other medical professional, this article has been compiled using a variety of internet reference sources and while every effort has been made to ensure accuracy this cannot be guaranteed. No preference for product or brand is inferred or intended and the contents of this article are not to be used in whole or in part to inform a decision regarding any aspect of contact lens use.

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