What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is damage or breakdown of the macula of the eye. The macula is a small area at the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly. Macular degeneration affects both distance and close vision and can make some activities-like threading a needle or reading-difficult or impossible.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe visual loss in persons over 65 years of age. Exactly why it develops is not known, and no treatment has been uniformly effective. (See the American Academy of Ophthalmology brochure on macular degeneration for more information).
What do vitamins and minerals have to do with macular degeneration?
Everyone knows that good nutrition is important for good health in general. Good nutrition requires a diet with a healthy mixture of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Probably no part of our diet has been as misused or misunderstood as our requirement for vitamins and minerals.
Protein creates the building blocks and chemical machinery in our bodies; carbohydrates supply immediate fuel and energy; fats are used for long-term storage of fuel and energy. Vitamins are organic compounds that our bodies cannot manufacture and are essential for maintaining food health. Minerals, in small amounts, are required for the body’s enzyme system (enzymes assist chemical reactions such as the breakdown of food into energy.) Certain vitamins and minerals may delay the development of macular degeneration.
Normal chemical reactions caused by the effect of light on the macula may activate oxygen and cause macular damage over a long time. Some vitamins and minerals function as antioxidants, chemicals which work against this activated oxygen, and perhaps protect the macula from damage. Some experts believe that the following antioxidants may help slow down macular degeneration and other aging factors:
Vitamins C and E
Selenium (a mineral)
Carotenoids (a family of compounds which includes betacarotene) especially those found in leafy green vegetables.
Scientific studies are not complete and not all doctors agree that antioxidants can help prevent macular degeneration.
Zinc, one of the most common trace minerals in our body, is highly concentrated in the eye, particularly in the retina and tissues surrounding the macula. Zinc in necessary for the action of over 100 enzymes, including chemical reactions in the retina.
Studies have shown that some older people gave low levels of zinc in their blood, either because of poor diet or poor absorption of zinc form normal food. Because zinc is important for the health of the macula, some doctors think that supplements of zinc in the diet may slow down the process of macular degeneration. As in the controversy over antioxidants, there is no agreement that zinc can definitely help macular degeneration. It is possible that too much zinc may interfere with other trace minerals such as copper.
Should I take antiocidant vitamins or zinc for macular degeneration?
The first step to overall good health is a balanced diet. Vitamins and minerals are commonly given as supplements to the diet in amounts determined by recommended daily allowances. These supplementary dosages cause no apparent harm and are commonly available. But large doses of vitamins, called therapeutic doses, in amounts many times the daily recommended allowances, may not be completely safe.
Research is still in progress about nutrition and macular degeneration. It is best to consult with your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) to decide whether it is advisable for you to begin such treatment.
Should I add foods such as fish to my diet to aid with eye health?
In an Australian study, people who at fish one time per week reduced their risk of age related macular degeneration by 40% due to fish being rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Why are regular medical eye examinations important for everyone?
Eye disease can occur at any age. Many eye disease do not cause symptoms until the disease has done damage. Since most blindness is preventable if diagnosed and treated early, regular medical examinations by an Eye M.D. are very important.
What can be done to help my vision beside laser treatment?
Very bright light has been shown to help patients read better. Also, a magnifying glass may help too. Get a goose-neck lamp and put an outdoor flood light with high wattage and use this to read. Also, use a magnifier in conjunction with this lamp. The results will surprise you.
Things I can do to prevent ARMD:
WEAR SUNGLASSES AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
MAINTAIN A DIET RICH IN FISH
SEE YOUR EYE DOCTOR ON A REGULAR BASIS.
Treatments offered at SEECA for Wet Macular Degeneration:
Lucentis: SEECA and Dr. D are proud to offer a new revolutionary treatment for wet macular degeneration called Lucentis (Ranibizumab). This is currently the most advanced treatment for WET AGE RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION.
In a landmark study called the Anchor study, Lucentis MAINTAINED OR IMPROVED THE VISION IN 95% OF PATIENTS. This is the first study ever to show AN IMPROVEMENT in vision for patients with macular degeneration after treatment, which is very exciting. Lucentis targets and inhibits VEGF-A in a very specific manner and is better than other agents that are not as specific, such as Macugen (pegaptanib).
Lucentis prevents new growth and leakage of abnormal blood vessels in the macula. The treatment is given as an injection, normally once a month; however, some patients may be given the injection less often depending on the severity of their condition.
Other Treatments in the Development Stages
Rheophoresis: This is another experimental technique that is not FDA approved as of yet. The process is much like dialysis, where the blood is removed from the person and filtered through a large unit, cleansing the impurities and then putting the blood back into the person’s body. This technique is currently under experimentation and if it proves to work, we will be able to offer it to our patients.
Bionic Eyes: For patients with extensive damage to the retina, there is hope in the form of a bionic eye. New technology that uses computers and microchips and mini-cameras may one day make it possible for people with severe vision loss to see again. Presently this is still in the experimental stage, but if it proves to be effective, we will be able to offer it to our patients.
As you can see, there are a number of promising devices presently on the horizon. Once these devices have been approved by the FDA, we will be able to offer them to you, in the mean time, eat right, take your vitamins, keep you eye appointments and don’t give up hope.
Vision Self Test
The lines in the box should be straight and all the little boxes should be square. Check one eye at a time. Look at the center dot.
The Numbers should be clear all the way down to the D-20 line at 14 inches. If you have poor vision in one or both eyes, make sure that it is not getting worse. If your vision is not perfect or is getting worse, call SEECA at 1-985-853-0900