January is National Eye Care Month -- When was the last time you went to
the eye doctor?
Did it seem like your vision started to decline after you hit 40? This is
a toll of aging. While there are many possible causes, this is the time to
become aware of age-related macular degeneration or AMD, a condition where central
retinal function worsens, producing poor -and eventually no-central vision.
This makes it difficult to read, drive or even watch TV.
AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the US-it may affect one in five Americans
over age 65. It is nearly twice as common in women than in men, so new research
is targeting the possible role of estrogen in preventing it or decreasing its
severity. The antioxidant lutein may also have a preventive role. There are
very few treatment options for AMD.
What can you do to reduce your risk of AMD? Have a complete eye exam every
2 years between ages 40 and 65, then yearly. If you smoke, stop: smokers
are twice as commonly affected than nonsmokers. High blood pressure, diabetes,
and heart disease also increase your risk, yet another reason to keep those
conditions controlled. Some doctors recommend lutein supplementation. Most
importantly, protect your eyes from the sun with sunglasses, year round.
Created: 1/18/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.