The diagnosis of macular degeneration is becoming increasingly more common due to patient awareness, physician access, groundbreaking improvements in treatment, and the relentless graying of the population exponentially increases the percentage of the population at risk for this condition. Thus, macular degeneration is a formidable challenge to patients, their doctors, and our society as the costs for delivering state-of-the-art care increase.
Macular degeneration, also called age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD) or the now discarded term senile macular degeneration (SMD), describes a variety of pathologic but extremely common conditions that affect the macula (a portion of the retina of the eye) and, therefore, central vision. Central vision is what you see directly in front of you rather than what you see at the side (or periphery) of your vision.
Macular degeneration is caused when part of the retina deteriorates. The retina is the interior layer of the eye consisting of the receptors and nerves that collect and transmit light signals from the eye into the optic nerve, then to the brain for interpretation as our sense of vision. The macula is the central portion of the retina and is responsible for detailed vision and color vision, the vision we use to read, thread a needle, sign a check, or recognize faces. The macula is a highly specialized part of the nervous system and the eye in which the photoreceptors that react to light stimulus and the neurons that interpret and transmit these signals are precisely organized and densely compacted. It is the macula that allows humans to see 20/20, or an eagle to spot a small rodent on the ground hundreds of feet below.
Zinc can, at high doses, cause anemia in some patients as well as exacerbate the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s. As will be demonstrated later in this chapter, it may be prudent to cut back on the amount of Zinc from the amount used in the controlled study.
Beta-carotene is a substance made from plants that the body can convert into Vitamin A. It also acts as an antioxidant, an immune system booster, helps cells reproduce normally, protects the photoreceptors against free radicals, and enhances night vision. Other members of the carotene family are beta-carotene’s cousins, zeaxanthin, lutein, and lycopene. However, unlike beta-carotene, most of these nutrients do not convert to significant amounts of Vitamin A.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that functions as a powerful antioxidant. It is critical to make collagen, the glue that strengthens many parts of the body, such as blood vessels. Vitamin C also plays an important role in wound healing. This vitamin also aids in the formation of liver bile and helps to fight viruses and detoxify alcohol and other toxic substances.
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Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects cell membranes and other fat-soluble parts of the body. In addition to Vitamin E’s benefit for the eyes, two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that both men and women who supplement with at least 100 IU of vitamin E per day for at least two years have a 37-41% drop in the risk of heart disease
Lutein (loo-teen) is a carotenoid found in vegetables and fruits. Lutein acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells against the damaging effects of free radicals. Chances are you’re not getting the lutein you need because most Americans simply don’t eat enough vegetables rich in lutein. A recent survey of eye doctors indicated that 91% believe that lutein promotes eye health and can be beneficial in treating AMD. A recent study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health found that people who ate the highest amounts of leafy green vegetables like kale, collard greens, and spinach had a 57% lower risk of developing AMD than those who ate these foods the least. In an AMD study published in the Journal of the American Optometric Association, it was shown that a diet rich in spinach may help stop AMD and even reverse some of the effects of the disease.
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Taurine is an amino acid found naturally in egg whites, meat, fish, and milk. High concentrations are found in the heart muscle, white blood cells, skeletal muscle, and central nervous system. In the retina there are two binding proteins specific to taurine. Intracellular concentrations are higher in the retina than in any other region derived from the central nervous system.
The other method of treatment involves Laser Surgery in which a physician uses a laser to target the specific blood vessels that are problematic and causing trauma to the macula. However, it should be noted, that many patients will not qualify for laser treatment, and more importantly, the laser treatment is invasive and can and often does lead to permanent scarring in the area of use, which causes a permanent loss of vision in that particular region. There are nutritional supplements that may aid in limiting the damage to the macula. These should be used in conjunction with Anti-VEGF treatments not as a alternative.
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Aman Mohammed comes to Dire Kiltu health post with her 9 months old son Usman Mohammed.
Image by UNICEF Ethiopia Aman Mohammed comes to Dire Kiltu health post with her 9 months old son Usman Mohammed. Aman Mohammed comes to Dire Kiltu health post with her 9 months old son Usman Mohammed, to participate the OTP program that takes place every Thursday. Dodota woreda, Dire Kiltu kebele, Arsi zone. UNICEF ETHIOPIA/ 2016/ Mersha
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