Hope for Macular Degeneration
Modern technology is rapidly changing the way we learn, work, and play. Despite all of our remarkable accomplishments, there is still no cure for an eye disease that is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in Canada - macular degeneration (MD). MD can impact your eyes to ultimately cause irreversible vision loss significantly reducing your quality of life. If you have a parent who is diagnosed with MD, then you have about a fifty percent chance of inheriting this disease. MD is increasingly recognized as a complex genetic disorder in which genes contribute to an individual's susceptibility for developing the condition. Smoking, poor diets, obesity, lack of exercise also increase your risk.
However, there is good news to combat MD. Specific vitamin sup- plements can be beneficial to slow down the disease. The AgeRelated Eye Disease Study (AREDS), a long term major clinical trial, spanning over ten years, concluded that a mega dose combination of nutrients composed of beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and Zinc decreased the progression of intermediate and advanced MD. A subsequent AREDS clinical trial recommended that beta-carotene be replaced with lutein and zeaxanthin due to an increase in lung cancer with smokers.
AREDS vitamins may be contraindicated if you have a hypersensitivity to zinc. Other studies have shown that 13 – 15 percent of AREDS subjects who have a similar genetic profile suffered loss of vision related to zinc hypersensitivity. These patients should avoid consuming high doses of supplemental zinc.
A painless genetic test is available to capture your DNA to predict your sensitivity to zinc and which AREDS nutrients are best suited to slow down the progression of MD. Eye doctors can now examine your own personal risk to develop macular degeneration and to determine which nutrients are best suited for you.
AREDS should only be taken on the advice of your eye doctor and only if you have intermediate or later stages of the disease. Early diagnosis of MD is only possible through periodic eye examinations. An eye care professional can advise you on your best course of action.
Dr. Dennis Ruskin