ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Winter Is Tough on Feet
Get in Step With Summer Foot Care
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
CANCER
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Breast Self-Exam Rates Go Up With Counseling
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
CAREGIVING
Caregivers Face Multiple Strains Tending Older Parents
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Successful Weight Loss Shows Unique Brain Patterns
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Topical Drugs May Pollute Waterways
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Skin Woes Take Toll on U.S. Combat Troops
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
FITNESS
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
More Single Women Are Having Babies
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Add your Article

Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

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 copper) 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 any early changes that suggest AMD."

More information

Learn more about age-related macular degeneration from the National Eye Institute.



SOURCES: David Rein, Ph.D., senior research economist, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, N.C.; Alexander Aizman, M.D., clinical instructor, department of ophthalmology, New York University School of Medicine, New York City; April 2009, Archives of Ophthalmology

Last Updated: April 14, 2009

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