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

pper) that may slow the progression of AMD. This treatment only costs about $100 per year, and when used early in the disease can "reduce vision-threatening disease by 25 percent," Rein noted.

Other possible treatments include anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF), which slows the growth of leaking blood vessels in the eyes, laser therapy or photodynamic therapy (PDT), which combines the use of medication and laser therapy to reduce blood vessel leakage in the eyes.

Using a statistical model, the researchers estimated that the rate of visual impairment would drop by 2.4 percent if everyone with AMD were treated with PDT alone, but by 22 percent if PDT was combined with vitamin treatments. If, in the future, everyone were treated with laser therapy and anti-VEGF, visual impairment and blindness from AMD would decrease by 16.9 percent, and the final scenario -- early vitamin treatment and laser therapy -- would reduce serious visual problems in AMD by 34.5 percent.

"Age-related macular degeneration is a major public health problem, and as people are living longer, more people are going to develop some form of macular degeneration," said Dr. Alexander Aizman, a clinical instructor in the department of ophthalmology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City. "The scenarios in this study are very plausible."

Aizman said that although there's currently no specific preventive treatment to avoid AMD altogether, the same things that keep your heart and the rest of your body healthy -- maintaining the proper weight, exercising, not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke -- can also help keep your eyes healthy.

"If you have a relative who has been diagnosed with AMD, it's important to know that you're probably at a higher risk of AMD than the general population," said Aizman. "If you're 60 or older, have regular eye checkups with an ophthalmologist or a retinal specialist to find out if you have
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