Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration ChicagoAge-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is a disease caused by damage or breakdown of the macula, the small part of the eye’s retina that is responsible for our central vision. This condition affects both distance and close vision and can make some activities — like threading a needle or reading — very difficult or impossible. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over the age of 65.

Deposits located beneath the retina, named drusen, are a common sign of ARMD. By themselves, such deposits don’t cause loss of vision but, in increased numbers and size, they are an indication of being at risk to develop an advanced stage of ARMD. People at risk of developing a late stage of ARMD may have a significant amount of drusen, prominent dry ARMD, or presence of abnormal blood vessels beneath the macula in one eye (wet ARMD).

Although the exact causes of ARMD are not fully understood, a 2001 scientific study called AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) has shown that some antioxidant vitamins and zinc may reduce the impact of ARMD in some people. The study found that people at higher risk for late-stage macular degeneration who followed a dietary supplement of vitamin C, E and beta-carotene, along with zinc, lowered the risk of the disease progressing to advanced stages by about 25 percent. The same treatment did not appear to achieve the same results among people without ARMD, or within the first stages of the disease.

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