ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Majority of College Students Report Backpack-Related Pain
Brazilian Mint Tea Naturally Good for Pain Relief
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
CANCER
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
With Age Comes Greater Risk of Hypothermia
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Added Sugars in Diet Threaten Heart Health
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
Population-Based Strategy Urged to Cut U.S. Obesity Rate
Pesticides Linked to Parkinson's
EYE CARE, VISION
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
FITNESS
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Vitamin D Best Taken With Largest Meal of Day, Study Finds
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
Drink Away Dementia?
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
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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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