SCHAUMBURG, Ill. – In the dawn of the 21st century, 76 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1961 face the prospect of age-related macular degeneration, a potentially blinding eye disease affecting many older Americans.
Already, more than 13 million Americans 40 and older show signs of the disease, according to Prevent Blindness America.
While signs of macular degeneration begin to appear among some individuals around age 40, the disease most often strikes those over 60.
What is it?
Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disease that attacks a small but important part of the eye called the macula, which is responsible for the most sensitive central part of the vision.
People affected by the disease often have trouble with many daily tasks such as reading and driving.
There are two forms of the disease that affect older Americans. In “dry” AMD, the tissues in the macula break down or become thin. While there is currently no effective treatment for this common form of AMD, vision loss tends to be moderate and slow.
In “wet” AMD, the more severe form of the disease, tiny blood vessels begin to grow and proliferate under the macula. These weak vessels often break and leak blood and fluid into the surrounding tissue, damaging vision.
In approximately 20 percent of the cases diagnosed early, laser treatment can prevent further loss of vision from “wet” AMD.
Could diet help?
Very preliminary research suggests that a diet rich in antioxidants found in dark green, leafy vegetables may lower a person’s risk of developing “wet” AMD.
“It may be many years before such measures can be proven effective in preventing AMD,” said Prevent Blindness medical director Maurice Rabb.
“In the meantime, people with AMD can also be helped to maximize their remaining vision by using low-vision aids and with effective training. It’s important for older Americans to learn all they can about eye disorders affecting their age group.”
Call for free brochure.
To help inform baby boomers of their risk of AMD, Prevent Blindness America is distributing free information. For more information call 800-331-2020 or visit www.preventblindness.org.