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This information was received, in part, from by Marc Grossman, OD, L.Ac., clinician for over 20 years, national lecturer and author of Natural Eye Care - Encyclopedia, published by Keats in April, 1999 and Michael Edson, M.S., medical healthcare consultant and educator for over 20 years. The products described are available from Nature's Sunshine Products, Inc.
Everyone with macular degeneration is going to continue losing vision, and there is no effective treatment to avoid this.
You do not have to lose your vision with macular degeneration. There are steps you can take to stabilize and even possibly improve your vision.
Macular Degeneration (ARMD-Aged Related Macular Degeneration) is the slow deterioration of the cells in the macula, a tiny yellowish area near the center of the retina where vision is the most precise. This deterioration affects your central vision, the very vision you use for reading, writing, driving and recognizing faces. ARMD causes the loss of central vision. Your peripheral vision is not affected.
There are two types of macular degeneration: Ninety percent of people with macular degeneration have the dry type, in which small, yellow spots called drusens form underneath the macular. Drusens are believed to be waste products that accumulate because of lack of antioxidants to clear the waste from the eyes The drusen slowly break down the cells in the macular, causing distorted vision. Dry macular degeneration can progress to the second, more severe type, called wet macular degeneration.
In the wet type, new, abnormal blood vessels begin to grow toward the macular, causing rapid and severe vision loss.
*Free radicals damage from ultraviolet and blue light from sunlight passing through he crystalline lens. Free radicals are natural byproducts of metabolism. These highly reactive chemicals cause oxidation and can destabilize healthy cells in the back of the eyes. Free radical damage is accelerated by smoking, chronic fatigue and compromised immune systems.
*Nutritional Deficiencies and Poor Digestion - Often sufferers of macular degeneration are deficient in some or many of the important nutrients including Essential Fatty Acids (Super GLA), Lutein, Super Antioxidants, Citrus Bioflavonoids w/C, Zinc, Vitamin E w/Selenium and B-Complex.
Individuals at risk for macular degeneration include:
There is no effective treatment. Some causes of macular degeneration are treated with laser surgery, but the treatment itself may not effectively seal up a leaky blood vessel without permanently destroying retinal nerve fibers that pass through the area. According to the National Eye Institute, laser treatment can actually worsen vision and any ability to slow the progression of disease does not appear until at least a year after surgery.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Visudyne Therapy to be used on a trial basis for treatment of wet macular degeneration. This procedure has shown on a trial basis to be less damaging than laser treatments in its ability to target abnormal blood vessels and avoid damaging retinal cells.
Prevention is the best medicine. Using complementary medicine to try to address the underlying cause of macular degeneration, along with traditional medicine to try to prevent damage on an acute basis, is the best approach to preserving vision both short and long-term. Since less than one-percent of those with macular degeneration have progressed to the point of legal blindness, most are in a position to benefit greatly from prevention.
COMPLEMENTARY TREATMENTS FROM NSP:
Since we consider most eye conditions to be a reflection of the health of the whole body, lifestyle choices and diet can play a major factor in getting and maintaining good vision. Besides supplements, below are some recommendations:
AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
Source: Health Sciences Institute e-Alert
More than 8 million Americans over the age of 55 are at high risk of developing AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration). That's why the 2001 breakthrough study was so significant; it provided very strong evidence to the effectiveness of an easy, inexpensive and completely natural way to dramatically reduce AMD risk.
It was refreshing to see the mainstream catching up with a protocol that complementary and alternative practitioners had been recommending for years. Now the mainstream has gone a step further with a new study that validates the 2001 research and puts its importance in clear perspective.
In short, this is information everyone over the age of 55 needs to be aware of.
To understand the results of the new research, we'll start with a quick review of the 2001 report from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS); a major, ongoing clinical trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute, one of the federal government's National Institutes of Health.
Over a period of eight and a half years, AREDS researchers recruited almost 3,600 study participants. On average, the subjects were tracked for 6.3 years, with vision exams every six months. All of the participants were between the ages of 55 and 80, and approximately equal numbers of women and men.
Subjects were divided into categories depending on the state of their vision when recruited. For example: "Category 4" patients already had AMD at the beginning of the study, while "Category 2" patients showed only borderline AMD characteristics. Subjects in all categories were randomly assigned one of the following four regimens:
After compiling the completed data in April 2001, researchers found that when compared to the placebo group, subjects in the antioxidant group had a 17 percent lower rate of AMD and subjects in the zinc group had an impressive 21 percent lower incidence of AMD. But those in the group that combined antioxidants and zinc cut their risk of AMD by a full 25 percent.
The study didn't assess the supplements' ability to prevent the initial development of AMD, but there are indications that it could help prevent the disease.
The most recent round of research using AREDS data comes from a team at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine here in Baltimore.
Applying the 2001 results to estimates of those in the U.S. who are at risk of AMD, the Hopkins researchers concluded that over the next 5 years, well over a million people will develop advanced AMD if they receive no preventive treatment. But if all 8 million at risk began to take supplements comparable to those in the AREDS study, more than 300,000 of them would prevent the onset of AMD and the vision loss associated with AMD.
In what has to be considered a remarkable mainstream endorsement of the preventive effects of supplements, the authors of the study told Reuters news service that the intake of these vitamins and nutrients by people at risk of AMD should have "a major impact on them, as well as on the public health."
But who exactly is at risk of AMD?
As the name of the disorder implies, age is the primary risk factor, with people over the age of 60 being in the greatest danger. Other risk factors include cigarette smoking and a history of immediate family members with AMD. Prescription blood pressure drugs called ACE inhibitors actually create a greater AMD risk than smoking does. Finally, women are at more risk than men.
All of the supplements used in the AREDS study are very safe at the dosage levels listed above. As always, you should talk to your doctor before starting any supplementation program, but for most people, the combination of antioxidants and zinc is an easy, inexpensive way to fight off AMD and retain your sight.
And this is especially so if you're getting a good amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
Another study that examined the dietary information of more than 4,500 AREDS subjects, aged 60-80 years. When researchers analyzed the results of omega-3 fatty acid consumption through fish intake on subjects at risk of AMD, they found that those who ate one or more servings of fish each week (four ounces of tuna or the same amount of broiled or baked fish) reduced their chances of developing "wet AMD" (the most damaging type of AMD) by about one-third, while subjects who consumed more than two weekly fish servings cut their chances of wet AMD in half. [If you are concerned about eating fish because of the ocean pollution issue, take superior quality Nature’s Sunshine’s Omega 3 EPA]
[Once again, we see the mainstream finally catching up to what Nature’s Sunshine members have known for some time.]