THERE'S HOPE FOR PEOPLE W/ AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION (AMD)

MANILA,
March 8, 2004 (STAR) Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of visual impairment for individuals aged 75 and beyond. Although there is currently no cure, there is hope for those with AMD.

As part of the Age-Related Macular Degeneration/Low Vision Awareness Month last month, doctors of the Manila Eye Specialists (tel. no. 743-8583) urged the public to undergo screening for age-related vision problems by having regular eye exams and consulting their eye doctors about new treatments and low vision resources if they are experiencing vision loss.

Macular degeneration is a progressive, usually painless disease that affects the macula (the spot on the retina at the back of the eye responsible for the central vision), causing the central vision to blur, but leaving peripheral vision intact. Thus, AMD does not lead to total blindness.

Research continues for AMD treatments, and increasingly effective treatments will become available in the near future. For example, current findings show that high levels of zinc and antioxidants can play a key role in slowing the progression of advanced AMD and that conventional laser and photodynamic therapy can reduce the risk of moderate to severe vision loss in patients with specific forms of "wet" macular degeneration. Other experimental treatments, including intraocular injections of antineovascular factors, are also currently being investigated.

For now, however, people should beware of claims being made on the Internet, in newspapers and in magazines announcing cures for macular degeneration. Investigate the claims thoroughly and consult your eye doctors before undergoing any treatment. Most of these treatments have not been proven safe or effective and may be very costly.

Vision loss does not have to mean loss of independence or quality of life. If you have low vision, ask your eye doctor about low vision rehabilitation. He or she can provide low vision services or refer you to local agencies that can help.

Early detection and treatment is the best defense against losing your vision. If you are at risk for macular degeneration, see your eye doctor for a complete eye exam at least every one to two years.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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