Health & Wellness

Macular Degeneration

Lev Shustarovich/Lipotriad LLC  –  When it comes to aging, little is more terrifying than losing your independence through the loss of your sight. A common cause of blindness in older adults is age-related macular degeneration (“AMD”), an eye disease which usually affects adults over the age of 50. There are three stages of AMD: early, intermediate, and advanced. The most common form of macular degeneration is found in the early and intermediate stages and is known as the “dry” form. Dry AMD accounts for about 90% of all cases with the remaining 10% of cases composed of the “wet” form of AMD, which is the advanced stage. People suffering from both forms of macular degeneration will experience difficulty seeing directly in front of them. Activities such as driving, reading, or even watching TV become difficult because the sharp central vision needed to engage in these activities successfully will be blurred. In extreme cases, macular degeneration can eventually lead to blindness in one or both eyes. Permanent blindness is usually a result of the more aggressive “wet” macular degeneration. About 1.7 million Americans have some form of macular degeneration and it is now the leading cause of vision loss among Americans age 65 and over.

Although there is no cure for macular degeneration, researchers have discovered several measures people can take to help prevent the onset of the disease and slow its development. A study done by the National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that taking a specific high-dose formulation of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduces the risk of advanced AMD and its associated vision loss. According to studies done by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, a high intake of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in particular can decrease your risk of AMD by as much as 43 percent, while increasing macular pigment density (a crucial factor in visual acuity) by as much as 40 percent. The National Institute of Health (NIH) also concluded that taking a combination of lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fish oil, copper, zinc, and the vitamins C and E will help protect your lens and retina from damage and support proper moisture levels for your eyes, resulting in a lower risk of developing AMD. Based on all these studies, it is clear that supplementation with vitamins is an essential step that can help delay and possibly prevent the progression of dry macular degeneration into the advanced stage where permanent vision loss occurs.

Macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in adults over 50. But proactive steps can be taken to prevent and delay its onset. It is important to wear sunglasses when outside, avoid eating fatty foods, and stop smoking. Foods high in carotenoids such as cantaloupe, spinach, and carrots are great foods to eat on a regular basis. Eating a diet rich in lutein and fish oil, found in dark leafy vegetables and certain fish also supports optimal eye health. But most adults rarely get enough vision-optimizing nutrients through diet alone. Taking a daily vitamin that is high in lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega 3 fish oil provides essential nutrients to keep eyes healthy.

Macular Degeneration Symptoms

Dry macular degeneration symptoms usually develop gradually. You may notice these vision changes:

  • The need for increasingly bright light when reading or doing close work
  • Increasing difficulty adapting to low light levels, such as when entering a dimly lit restaurant
  • Increasing blurriness of printed words
  • A decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors
  • Difficulty recognizing faces
  • A gradual increase in the haziness of your overall vision
  • A blurred or blind spot in the center of your field of vision
  • Hallucinations of geometric shapes or people, in cases of advanced macular degeneration

Dry macular degeneration may affect one eye or both eyes. If only one eye is affected, you may not notice any or much change in your vision because your good eye compensates for the weak one.

AMAC, Inc. recommends that you always consult your personal physician before making any health care decisions.


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Scarlet Dinvalds
6 years ago

I have been taking Preser Vision AREDS/Lutein for the past year and have developed multiple urinary infections. This problem was also mentioned in a health letter published monthly. Could any of the components in this AREDS ( such as excessive zink) be responsible for my infections? I discontinued use of AREDS a month ago and it seems that my vision has deteriorated somewhat. What should I do? Any advice? My family MD. recommended that I discontinue use of AREDS and try something else. Like what?

7 years ago

I would like to know what eating watermelon has to di with macular degeneration. I have macular degeneration and have now has surgery in both eyes. One quite recently.

8 years ago

I”m a firm advocate, of vitamins, eating correctly, exercise………..I truly believe, these are the key ingredients needed for a healthy life style, for us baby boomers, I”m a Vietnam Special Forces Veteran……..and following these gude lines
I truly believe, will give you a much better quality of life, as we age

9 years ago

I love being a baby boomer!; We have lots of company with whom to share our aging experiences!
In this day of extensive access to research results and to each other for personal testimonies, we need never feel alone nor ignorant.
In spite of all of the bad things that this era brings, (‘Excuse me young person, your underpants are showing. Would you like to have this big safety pin, dear?’) there are consolations also. (‘For this I take Lutein?’) Seriously though, thank you for the specifics and prompting to go for an exam…and to avoid smoking. This I will do.

Mary Donehower
9 years ago

My eye doctor recommended taking Icap vitamins; however, I now take 20mg. of Lutein and Zeaxanthin every day. The 20mg. of Lutein has more mg. than Icap does and is less expensive.

9 years ago
Reply to  Mary Donehower

You know. Lot’s of times we can’t follow a bcaenlad meal, so when I don’t have the time to eat fruits and veggies, I take a multi vitamin. I know there is a lot of saying that you flush down the toilet the ingredients from a multi vitamin but I disagree. Might as well take some vitamins that none. I recommend GNC’s Men’s Health Multivitamin. I think that’s what it’s called. Go to GNC and ask them for a good multivitamin.

Jan S
9 years ago

I was diagnosed with early stage macular degeneration 2-3 years ago – I am now 63 – I started taking PreserVision (AREDS formula) on the recommendation of my eye dr. He says it hasn’t progressed since then.

M S Jones
9 years ago

Five years ago I was diagnosed with dry macular degeneration. My mother, two aunts, and daughter had/have it. I immediately went on Preservision at the advice of my opthalmologist. Two years later one eye turned to “wet”. The bleeding stopped after 4 Avastin shots. My vision has actually improved with the vitamins. My doctor calls me “his poster child”.

Willis Bennett
9 years ago

My wife , age 75 , has been diagnosed with macilar gegeneration and her Eye doctor recomended that she start on EYE Omega Advantage by PRN Physician Recomended Neutriceuticals Plymouth Meeting , Pa.

Terry A
9 years ago

Does anyone know is Lasik surgery would help any?

John Backes
9 years ago
Reply to  Terry A

Dear Terry, Unfortunately, No. Lasik is a procedure using laser technology done to reshape the front surface of the eye. Macular degeneration is a problem with the surface of the “movie screen” on the back of the inside of the eye. The live cells in the Macular region die off quicker than they should for a number of reasons in this disease. One must impact the health of those inner tissues by improved nutrition and improved exercise and therefore improved bloodflow. Keep harsh light from entering the eyes (ie. welders arc light, direct sunlight- like looking right at the sun or highly reflective surfaces like ice, water, snow, white concrete/paints etc. that allow more intense bright light to bounce into the eyes.) I hope this helps. – John (an optometrist in Florida)

Lila Fergus
9 years ago

I was diagnosed with beginning macular degeneration about ten years ago. I did my research and started adding the supplements that were recommended. In six months I had another exam – no change, so it has been yearly exams since. After a couple years my doctor said “I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep it up”. I still have yearly exams and my eyes are in very good shape for my age – I’m 87.

9 years ago

In addition to the above mentioned supplements you may also want to check out ASTAXANTHIN, I have recently added this to my daily vitamins, purchased from procaps laboratories, they have some good information on it.

9 years ago

When Paul Harvey was alive, he advertised Lutein as an aid for macular degeneration. I checked some health care articles on the Internet, they confirmed the effectiveness of Lutein. It would be worth investigating if one is at risk for
developing macular degeneration.

J Fisher
9 years ago

Excellent info, whether the vitamin supplements will do all necessary for the eyes, they’ll most certainly help and will do wonders for the rest of the body, anyone not supplementing their regular diets, should seriously consider starting now.

Mary DeCaprio
9 years ago

Let’s get beyond the medical description of macular degeneration. I want to know what can be done to prevent it .
Next, I want to know what adaptive devices exist to help patients to continue reading.

I want names of helpful drugs and names of optical companies that make helpful devices.

John Backes
9 years ago
Reply to  Mary DeCaprio

Hi Mary, unfortunately, Prevention, if one can use that word in all cases, would start in youth. NO SMOKING! Try to be careful about the intake of ANY toxic substances into the body. One doesn’t have to train to be an olympic athlete but breathing in the unhealthy products of engine exhaust, burning wood/ leaves, spray paints, etc. or allowing even mildly poisonous substances to leach into your skin, even for short exposures should be avoided. Human beings are one big bag of blood vessels and separating membranes and muscles and bones and… well, you get the idea. Be careful to properly ventilate areas when painting. Wear protective clothing (gloves, sleeves, masks, pants, shoes etc.) when doing battle with bug sprays, weed killer, harsh cleaning solvents and such. Life-long exposures increase the likelihood of developing vascular, kidney, liver, lung and eye and brain diseases. Some folks are at a little greater risk of developing problems with Macular Degeneration than others.
A profile of a person more likely to develop Macular problems is a light-skinned caucasian, over 55 who has smoked for 30 years, partaken in minimal exercise, and has a diet poor in antioxidants. Yup. That person is “asking” for it. Soooo. You can’t do anything about what race in humanity you were blessed with (including your genetic inheritance) and your age is your age but you can turn around any of the other factors. Did I say NO SMOKING? There is no perfect formula. We barely “understand” the mechanisms in the eye’s vascular structure enough to try to impact it the way we do.
When in doubt, make an appointment with an eye doctor. If it’s an optometrist or ophthalmologist, it doesn’t matter as long as they give you the time to answer your questions about your specific case. Either will be able to help you decide what you can do for your particular issue. My only recommendation is to ask ahead of time it they are the type of doctor that can afford to give you the needed time. That doesn’t come with the degree of M.D. or O.D.

Jim Swain
9 years ago

You did not mention Lucentis or Avastin. When I started Medicare I was sent for an eye exam checking for Glaucoma, the Dr saw something he was concerned with on the macular. After a return visit and pics of the back of the eye, an appointment was scheduled with a specialist. My Mom had it and spent the last 20yrs legally blind, now I have it in the right eye. In addition to eye vitamins I am having eye injections monthly with Avastin. My second is 4/20. If someone in your family has Macular problems you have the gene, get checked, the sooner the better.

Sandy R, registered nurse and researcher
9 years ago

There is considerable misinformation in this article, as well as incorrect presentations of the research and advice of medical professionals. I strongly urge readers to be cautious and to consult a licensed opthalmologist before beginning any dietary supplement regimen.

Jerry Lane
9 years ago

The blanket statement “considerable misinformation” is not helpful. Providing the journalistic who, what, when, where & why would go a long way toward persuading the reader. Personally, after reading the article I am more inclined to check my vitamin stash for the antioxidents mentioned than not.

Michael Brown
9 years ago

Please specify the misinformation.

9 years ago

My wife and I just returned from a visit with her parents. Her Dad has macular degeneration and pleaded with my wife to be checked regularly because a family history reveals that both his mother and his grandmother suffered from blindness in their advancing years.

It is definitely worth having an eye exam yearly after age fifty. Just do it!

9 years ago

My mother suffers a great deal from this. I think that it is time that I start those vitamins. Thanks for the article.

Wayne Spaulding
9 years ago

Very good information to help avoid macular degeneration.

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