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Age Related Vision Loss Prevalent but Preventable

A recent study highlighted the fact that Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is becoming more prevalent among mature adults. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Iceland and published in the December 2010 issue of the journal Ophthalmology.

AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness in the Western world. It is a progressive disease that attacks the macula of the eye and affects over 15 million Americans. It causes central vision loss and leaves only peripheral vision.

In order to measure the prevalence of AMD the researchers gave eye exams to over 5,000 people over the age of 60. They found that over one in 10 people in their 60s and nearly one in four in their late 70s have an early form of AMD. There was also a large jump in AMD risk among people who were 85 and older. They appeared to be 10 times more likely to have late AMD than people aged 70 to 74.

The observed rates of AMD exceeded those found among previously studied populations. This may be due to the fact that Icelanders tend to have less pigment in their hair, eye color and retina, which may make their retinal pigment more vulnerable to AMD.

The researchers noted that if AMD is diagnosed in its earlier stages there are preventative measures that can reduce the risk of it progressing to the point of serious vision loss or blindness.

One treatment for AMD that was tested in a recent U.S government clinical trial is a high-dose of various antioxidants, vitamins C and E, beta-carotone and zinc. The study found that this treatment can slow the progression of AMD that is in the intermediate stages.

A few studies conducted earlier this year also found that consuming omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish may improve eye health and reduce the risk of AMD. Green leafy vegetables also appear to reduce the risk of AMD.

Incorporating more of these “eye health boosters” in your diet is not only a good way to prevent and potentially treat AMD, they also have a long list of other health benefits ranging from cardiovascular health to cognitive function.

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