Macular Degeneration (cont.)
There are no proven preventive medications for age-related macular degeneration.
- The best way to prevent vision loss is to get prompt examination and diagnosis by your ophthalmologist. The earlier you treat it, the better the chance that treatment will help.
- People older than 45 years with a family history of age-related macular degeneration have a greater chance of developing the disease.
- Using the Amsler grid may help detect subtle changes in your vision. You can monitor your vision daily by posting an Amsler grid on your refrigerator.
universally recommend that you stop smoking, eat a balanced diet that includes leafy green vegetables, and protect your eyes from sun exposure with sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) rays. A literature review found a two- to threefold higher risk for developing age-related macular degeneration in smokers.
- The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that supplementation with antioxidants plus zinc decreased the likelihood of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration in some people. Thus, most eye doctors strongly recommend an eye-specific antioxidant vitamin supplement containing the established dosages of A, C, E, zinc, selenium, and copper. In addition, supplemental antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthine are under clinical investigation and often contained in these supplements. Lutein and zeaxanthine are the pigments contained in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens.
- Vision exams for those older than 65 years should include age-related macular degeneration screening.
- Daily low-dose aspirin intake as well as cholesterol-lowering drugs may have a preventive effect, believed to be associated with their antiinflammatory activity. A standard 325 mg aspirin or the 81 mg low-dose baby aspirin is recommended for a wide variety of conditions, including the prevention of heart attack and stroke. All of the HMG Co-A reductase inhibitors such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor), and lovastatin (Mevacor) may also have a protective effect against macular degeneration.
John D. Sheppard, MD, MMSc
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