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Macular degeneration

What is it?

Macular degeneration is the most common cause of blindness in industrialized countries. There are two main types of macular degeneration: dry macular degeneration (more common) and wet macular degeneration. The macula is the part of the retina, in the back of your eye, that provides the greatest visual acuity in the center of your visual field.

Causes:

Macular degeneration is associated with increasing age, atherosclerosis or "hardening of the arteries," high blood pressure, and smoking. There is damage to the fragile blood vessels of the retina in both types of macular degeneration. The damage may be caused by free radicals that trigger inflammation. Dry macular degeneration usually progresses slowly but wet macular degeneration (where the fragile blood vessels are leaking) can progress quite rapidly.

Signs and Symptoms:

A progressive decrease in visual acuity at the center of your visual field is the most common symptom in macular degeneration. Peripheral vision may remain relatively intact while central vision deteriorates.

Wellness Recommendations:

Have an eye exam every year to find any eye problems as soon as possible. If you smoke, quit smoking. Control the amount of alcohol that you drink. Keep your blood pressure under control.

Medical Care:

There is no cure for macular degeneration. No medicine or treatment will reverse it. Sometimes laser surgery can stabilize or prevent macular degeneration from getting worse.

Dietary Measures:

  • Eating dark green leafy vegetables (eg, spinach and collard greens) can increase the amount of the antioxidant pigments, lutein and zeaxanthin, in the eye.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables may decrease macular degeneration risk.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Herbs:

    Supplements:

      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat macular degeneration.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.

      Care agreement: You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

      References:

      1. Lebuisson DA, Leroy L & Rigal G: Treatment of senile macular degeneration with Ginkgo biloba extract: a preliminary double-blind, drug versus placebo study. Presse Med 1986; 15(31):1556-1558.

      2. Newsome DA, Swartz M & Leone NC: Oral zinc in macular degeneration. Arch Ophthamol 1988; 106(2):192-198.

      3. Seddon JM, Ajani UA, Sperduto RD et al: Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age-related macular degeneration. Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group. JAMA 1994; 272(18):1413-1420.


      Last Updated: 6/16/2017
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