About Macular Degeneration
Macular Degeneration (often called Age-Related Macular Degeneration or ARMD) is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, and has been the center of many recent large scale studies including the National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). Macular Degeneration has been the focus of many recent, partially due to the increase in population of people over the age 65. The instances of people with Macular Degeneration or ARMD are increasing, and statistics show that approximately 2 million people in the United States alone have Macular Degeneration. Macular Degeneration can cause partial or severe vision loss, particularly if left untreated.
Recent medical studies and clinical test performed by the National Eye Institute (NEI) have found direct links between these vitamins and minerals and eye health. The most common question people have after learning about the preventative effects of these vitamins and minerals is "do I get enough of these eye vitamins in my daily multivitamin?" According to the NEI, the answer is no.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration is divided into two forms: Wet Macular Degeneration and dry Macular Degeneration. Both forms can result in partial or severe vision loss. In general, Macular Degeneration refers to the degeneration of the macula, which is a small yellow area on the back of the eye and located in the middle of the retina. Because of the position of the macula (the center of the retina), the resulting vision loss in Macular Degeneration is the central vision. In many cases, people suffering from Age-Related Macular Degeneration have normal peripheral vision, but generate a blind spot right in the middle of their sight path. Therefore, Macular Degeneration can affect one’s ability to read, drive and recognize faces.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Dry Macular Degeneration
Dry Macular Degeneration (also called non-neovascular or nonexudative) refers to a condition where the cells below the retina, on the retinal pigment epithelium, start to break down due to a build-up of yellowish deposits called drusen. Drusen are comprised of extra-cellular deposits and usually increase with age. Drusen deposits in people affected by Macular Degeneration are usually found on the retina or behind the macula. They interfere with the retinal pigment epithelium, where light rods and cone cells reside. Because rod and cone cells literally absorb and decipher light, thereby enabling us to see, the atrophy of rod and cone cells impairs our vision. Because of the area of atrophy (the macula, or the center of the retina), the result is central vision loss. About 90% of all people who suffer from Macular Degeneration are diagnosed with the dry or nonexudative type. A major symptomatic difference between Dry Macular Degeneration and Wet Macular Degeneration is that Dry Macular Degeneration usually progresses slowly, resulting in gradual central vision loss, whereas Wet Macular Degeneration is usually quite sudden and results in severe central vision loss. About 90% of people who suffer from ARMD have the Dry form of Macular Degeneration.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet Macular Degeneration (also called neovascular or exudative) refers to a condition where the macula degenerates (just as in Dry Macular Degeneration), but as a result of hemorrhaging blood vessels in the eye or the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye. In Wet Macular Degeneration, abnormal blood vessel growth is triggered in the choriocapillaries (behind the retina) resulting in the leakage of blood and protein. The resulting fluid leakage and overgrowth of blood vessels can quickly damage the macula and its rod and cone cells, resulting in severe loss of central vision. Hemorrhaging of the blood vessels around the retina or macula can cause vision loss virtually overnight, much the same way Diabetic Retinopathy does. Even if the vessels do not hemorrhage, the growth of blood vessels on the macula or the retina can cause severe central vision loss (though this may not be as sudden).
Macular Degeneration Prevention
As with many diseases, the best way to combat it is by preventing yourself from getting the disease in the first place. For years, medical researchers have known the benefits of some minerals and vitamins pertaining to eye health. Only recently is the medical community starting to understand the enormous impact that good nutrition and the ingestion of eye vitamins has on eye health, particularly when related to age-related eye diseases.
Among the most effective vitamins and nutrients for preventing eye diseases and promoting eye health are Vitamin A, beta-carotene and the newly discovered lutein. Natural, safe supplements called ‘eye vitamins’ have been clinically proven to lower the chances of developing age-related eye diseases by up to 30%. Because regular daily supplements do not contain the proper ingredients to promote eye health, new supplements are being created, such as the SEE® Scientific Based Formulation for Complete Eye Health, which contain over a dozen supplements, minerals, vitamins and extracts that promote complete eye health. In the report linked below are examples of natural vitamins and minerals which play a key role in preventing age-related eye disease and promote complete eye health.