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Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Date:4/14/2009

But newer treatments could reduce related blindness by almost 35%, study suggests,,,,

TUESDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Although the rate of age-related macular degeneration is on the increase, newer treatments could help reduce the most serious effects of the disease by about 35 percent, new estimates suggest.

In a study funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers report that as many as 9.1 million people will have age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in 2010, but that 17.8 million people will have the potentially blinding eye disease by 2050.

"What we found is that due to aging, the number of cases of early and advanced AMD will increase dramatically no matter what," said study author David Rein, a senior research economist from RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C. "In 2050, we project there will be 1.57 million cases of blindness [caused by AMD] with no treatment. But, with vigorous treatment, that number's just about 1 million."

Results of the study are published in the April issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Age-related macular degeneration is a serious eye disease that causes the breakdown of the macula, which is located in the retina. The macula gives you clear central vision, which is essential for reading and driving, even for just seeing people's faces. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in people over 65, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmologists (AAO).

Risk factors for AMD include advancing age, a family history of the disease, high blood pressure, smoking and obesity, according to the AAO. Though there are treatments that help some people, there is no cure for AMD.

Most of the treatments for AMD are relatively new, only widely available since about 2001, according to Rein. The easiest and cheapest intervention is a special vitamin/mineral combination (vitamins C, E, beta carotene, zinc and co
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