Age-related macular degeneration is the second leading cause of blindness in adults in the United States. Only diabetic retinopathy causes more blindness.
The name of the malady was changed several years ago by the eyecare community from senile macular degeneration to age-related macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration is damage or breakdown of the macula, the central point of focus on the retina. It is usually brought on by aging, as tissues in the eye thin and begin to break down, with the resultant loss of central vision.
There are two types. The most common is the dry atrophic type. The other is much less common, the wet variety, which may be caused by ruptured or leaking blood vessels in the eye.
Although the exact causes of AMD are not fully understood, in the Veterans Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial Study, researchers found that lutein is helpful in stabilizing the progression of the disease.
Nutrition studies show the average person only consumes about 1.5 mg of lutein per day. Since the human body does not produce lutein, the accumulation in the eyes is dependent on dietary intake from food or supplements. Current research suggests at least six mg of lutein per day for prevention and maintenance and higher amounts, up to 20 mg per day, for therapeutic use. Lutein may be one of the most important discoveries in macular degeneration disease and should be included in any prevention or treatment regimen.
The only way to tell if a person has macular degeneration is by having an eye evaluation. This evaluation is recommended every two years, or more frequent if advised by a family vision care provider.
There are many over-the-counter products available at pharmacies nationwide.