Macular Degeneration (cont.)
Self-Care at Home
- In a landmark prospective, randomized, controlled, masked national study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NHS) and the National Eye Institute (NIH), people with moderate and advanced age-related macular degeneration were shown to have a significant benefit with regard to disease progression and preservation of visual acuity by taking dietary supplements containing high-dose antioxidants and zinc. This study, called the AREDS (age-related eye disease study), was the first ever to prove that dietary supplements can alter the natural progression and complications of a disease state.
- Smoking cessation is recommended for everyone in order to prevent or slow
the progression of retinal disease. This is important for other ocular conditions as well, including dry eye, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
- People with advanced irreversible age-related macular degeneration may benefit from low-vision aids.
- handheld or coil-stand magnifiers for reading
- telescopes incorporated into specially designed glasses to see into the distance
- talking watches
- computers that talk or that use large type faces
- specialized magnification platforms for standard font reading material
- People should be encouraged to use the remaining peripheral vision that is unaffected by the macular degeneration.
- An extremely useful standardized test that may indicate macular problems or worsening of age-related macular degeneration is the Amsler grid.
- The Amsler grid consists of a square grid with a dark dot in the middle.
- Broken or distorted lines or a blurred or missing area of vision could be one of the first signs of age-related macular degeneration.
- The grid also helps to monitor changes in vision once changes have been detected or treatment initiated.
- The Macular Degeneration Partnership offers a self-test online with the Amsler grid.
John D. Sheppard, MD, MMSc
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