Can Macular Degeneration Be Reversed? 2
Reversing Macular Degeneration
Falling ill is never an enjoyable experience. However, we are typically able to use the knowledge that in time we will recover to push ourselves through the worst phases of an illness. Knowing that better days are just hours away helps us to maintain hope. In the case of an irreversible illness it becomes far more difficult to maintain a positive outlook. We can wish for a reduction in symptoms or even a cure, but we are never sure that they will arrive.
Macular degeneration is a disease in which the macula and retina are damaged, often resulting in vision loss. In fact, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among elderly Western populations. With the speed at which macular degeneration progresses and the widespread occurrence of the disease, a macular degeneration diagnosis may make one feel like vision loss is inevitable. Luckily, more recent research is showing that changes in diet can do wonders to guard against, slow the progression of, and possibly even reverse some of the symptoms of macular degeneration.
Intake of Vitamins, Minerals, and Phytochemicals
A research study conducted by the National Eye Institute found that supplementation of key nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and copper helped to slow both vision loss and the progression of intermediate macular degeneration. Additional research took this a step further, looking at the effects of a category of phytochemicals called carotenoids.
Apparently there is a bit of truth to the old adage that eating carrots is beneficial for one’s eyes. Carotenoids are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers their bright orange, yellow, and red hues. Types of carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene, play a critical role in maintaining eye health. These carotenoids aid in guarding against vision loss while also improving one’s ability to see colors and fine detail. Additionally, they also play a role in protecting our eyes against the damaging effects of the UV light we encounter outdoors as well as the blue light that emanates from our laptops, phones and other digital devices.
Additional Nutrients to Aid in Eye Health
While adequate intake of the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals mentioned above is critical for eye health, there exist a few additional compounds that also show promise. Taurine is an organic acid found in its highest concentration in meats. Within the body, a high concentration of taurine is found in the retina’s photoreceptor cells and is thought to protect the eye from UV damage.
Omega 3 fatty acids - most often found in fatty fish - also play a role in eye health. Omega 3 fatty acids help to reduce systemic inflammation and may be able to reduce intraocular pressure.
A proper diet, rich in key nutrients, can do wonders to improve wellbeing and guard against disease. The vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and additional compounds mentioned are particularly beneficial for eye health. However, these nutrients are not just for those who are concerned over their vision; they are a great addition to any balanced nutrition plan. Do you currently take a supplement to help get the above recommendations? We’d love to hear about it!
Dr. Jenna Zigler
- Dr. Jenna Zigler
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Are Injections For Macular Degeneration Painful? 2
There are currently no treatments for macular degeneration that completely cure the disease or even stop its progression. Research in recent years has discovered various ways to slow inevitable vision loss and, although rarely, improve vision in particular areas. Several types of treatment include laser treatment, combinations of medicines, and injection. Concerns about injections for macular degeneration being painful should be eased since they are regarded as straightforward and painless. Several injection-based treatments are detailed below.
Visudyne drug treatment is a photodynamic therapy that was the first drug therapy ever approved for the treatment of the wet form of macular degeneration. It is designated exclusively for people who have what is called a “predominantly classic” growth pattern of new blood vessels directly under the retina. An area of the arm is numbed with a painkiller after which the drug is delivered via a painless injection. Once the drug reaches the newly growing blood vessels under the retina, a low-energy laser beam is shone into the eye to activate the medication. Upon activation, Visudyne creates a chemical reaction that extinguishes unwanted blood vessels in the eye. Both the injection and the laser are considered virtually painless.
Visudyne diminishes the symptoms of wet macular degeneration and slows down the development of legal blindness in many patients. This laser-activated drug can also be administered along with other treatments, including Lucentis or Avastin.
Lucentis is actually an altered form of the colorectal cancer treatment drug Avastin. Lucentis has more recently been FDA approved as a way to treat advanced stages of the wet form of macular degeneration. In advanced stages of macular degeneration, there is an overgrowth of abnormal blood vessels triggered by a compound called vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF for short. The way Lucentis functions is by blocking VEGF proteins and thus preventing them from growing unnecessary blood vessels in the retina.
Most of the research surrounding Lucentis shows that it has a mostly positive effect. It was beneficial in improving, or at least stabilizing, the vision of nearly all of the people who took it. By limiting VEGF, many Lucentis users experienced improvements in vision, whereas the majority of other treatments simply stop macular degeneration from getting worse.
The way Lucentis is given is through an injection directly into the eye at monthly intervals (or as directed by your retinal specialist). Although the actual injection is considered to be painless, there have been scenarios were adverse reactions took place, such as eye inflammation, elevated eye pressure, and cataracts due to trauma. Continuing studies are required in order to fully explain the implications and side effects of taking Lucentis as an eye injection, but it is considered very safe and effective.
Macugen and Eylea
Macugen and Eylea, like Lucentis, are other forms of eye injection treatment. They both act similarly in that they attempt to stop VEGF from creating more hazardous blood vessels in the retina. Whereas Macugen is given every six weeks, Eylea is only needed once every other month (at the discretion of your doctor). Have you experienced any of the above procedures? Did they work for you?
Dr. Travis Zigler
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5 Proven Ways to Prevent Macular Degeneration 0
5 Proven Ways to Prevent Macular Degeneration
Wet macular degeneration is the advanced form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although it only affects about 10 percent of those who are diagnosed with AMD, it is the cause of 90 percent of all vision loss due to macular degeneration. With wet AMD, the macula (in the center of the retina) swells or thickens so much that it ruptures. The oxygen flow to the retina stops and the body responds by creating abnormal blood vessels.
These blood vessels then start growing through the macula, lifting up the retina and causing the eye to be visually impaired. There is currently no cure for wet AMD, but there are ways to prevent rapid progression and there are current treatments. Each of the following should be used by anyone with macular degeneration, whether they have the dry or wet form of the disease.
How Wet Macular Degeneration Occurs
There are several uncontrollable factors involved in getting AMD such as family history, gender, ethnicity, and age. There are also factors, such as one's lifestyle, which can be changed. People with Wet AMD all started with some form of dry macular degeneration which progressed over a period of time, reaching the advanced stages of macular degeneration. As stated above, there is no cure, but there are ways to slow the process down.
Number 1: Quit Smoking...Now
Smoking contributes to the rapid progression of macular degeneration. In a study conducted at the University of Manchester, smokers were found to be more likely to reach the advanced stages than non-smokers. The chemicals in cigarette smoke greatly affect the process of advancement. Experts say that it would be best never to have started smoking, but if you do, stopping now will slow the process.
Number 2: Eat Your Greens
In a study published by researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, experts concluded that iron-rich greens, such as raw spinach, greatly reduces the risk factors that cause AMD. Experts found that those who regularly eat carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) had a 43 percent lower risk of AMD than those who eat smaller amounts of these foods. Load up on those green, leafy vegetables!
Number 3: Take Your Vitamins
For years, our parents have made us take our vitamins, and for good reason. Vitamins contain all the necessary ingredients to prevent most preventable conditions. It won’t halt the progression of Wet AMD but eating your vitamins will greatly reduce the speed of its progression. A good quality multivitamin is fine for most people, but if you’ve already been diagnosed with AMD, it’s best to take a formula like our Eye Love Macular Health Formula.
Number 4: Eat More Fish
Studies have shown that eating fish versus eating red meat greatly reduces the risk of AMD. There are some that eat large amounts of fish, then there are some that do not eat any fish. It is highly recommended that those who don’t eat fish begin including it in their diets. Those that eat little to no fish are more at risk of getting AMD than people that eat larger amounts of fish. Fish have properties that land-dwelling animals do not possess and nutrients that can help keep AMD at bay. Even better, pick up a bottle of our Eye Love Omega 3!
Number 5: Exercise Regularly
Starting a regular exercise routine is recommended for everyone. Keeping the body fit reduces the risk of a variety of ailments, including AMD. It is recommended to pick an hour out of each day to exercise the body for health and to reduce weight. There are charts online for you to look up your ideal weight for your height. Ideal body weight varies by your height. Even just getting out and moving your body for 30 minutes a day can help!
In conclusion, we may not have a cure for AMD, but it is up to us to take the necessary precautions to reduce the risks of getting the condition. If you have already been diagnosed, take the above steps to slow down the progression. In doing so, you will have taken the first step to a healthier lifestyle. Have you been diagnosed with macular degeneration? Which of the above steps have you taken toward a healthier life?
Dr. Jenna Zigler
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