Hope for Mac­u­lar De­gen­er­a­tion

Richmond Hill Post - - Ask The Expert -

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

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