ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Scientists Discover How Osteoarthritis Destroys Cartilage
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Sharing Cancer Info May Be Empowering
Vitamin D May Improve Melanoma Survival
CAREGIVING
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
DIET, NUTRITION
Coffee Drinkers Might Live Longer
Antioxidant-Rich Foods Lose Nutritional Luster Over Time
Probiotics Are The Good Guys
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
EYE CARE, VISION
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
FITNESS
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Barefoot Best for Running?
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
'Organic' May Not Mean Healthier
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
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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