What is macular degeneration?
Macular degen’eration is damage or breakdown of the macula of the eye. The macula is a small area at the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly. Macular degeneration affects both distance and close vision and can make some activities-like threading a needle or reading-difficult or impossible.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe visual loss in persons over 65, years of age. Exactly why it develops is not known, and no treatment has been uniformly effective.
What do vitamins and minerals have to do with macular degeneration?
Everyone knows that good nutrition is important for good health in general. Good nutrition requires a diet with a healthy mixture of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Probably no part of our diet has been as misused or misunderstood as our requirement for vitamins and minerals.
Protein creates the building blocks and chemical machinery of our bodies; carbohydrates supply immediate fuel and energy; fats are used for long-term storage of fuel and energy. Vitamins are organic compounds that our bodies cannot manufacture and are essential for maintaining good health. Minerals, in small amounts, are required for the body’s enzyme system (enzymes assist chemical reactions such as the breakdown of food into energy). Certain vitamins and minerals may delay the development of macular degeneration:
Normal chemical reactions caused by the effect of light on the macula may activate oxygen and cause macular damage over a long time. Some vitamins and minerals function as antioxidants, chemicals which work against this activated oxygen, and perhaps protect the macula from damage. Some experts believe that the following antioxidants may help slow down macular degeneration and other aging factors:
- Vitamins C and E
- Selenium (a mineral)
- Carotenoids (a family of compounds which includes betacarotene) especially those found in leafy green vegetables.
Scientific studies are not complete and not all doctors agree that antioxidants can help prevent macular degeneration.
Zinc, one of the most common trace minerals in our body, is highly concentrated in the eye, particularly in the retina and tissues surrounding the macula. Zinc is necessary for the action of over I 00 enzymes, including chemical reactions in the retina.
Studies have shown that some older people have low levels of zinc in their blood, either because of poor diet or poor absorption of zinc from normal food. Because zinc is important for the health of the macula, some doctors think that supplements of zinc in, the diet may slow down the process of macular degeneration. As in the controversy over antioxidants, there is no agreement that zinc can definitely help macular degeneration. It is possible that too much zinc may interfere with other trace minerals such as copper.
Should I take antioxidant vitamins or zinc for macular degeneration?
The first step to overall good health is a balanced diet. Vitamins and minerals are commonly given as supplements to the diet in amounts determined by recommended daily allowances. These supplementary dosages cause no apparent harm and are commonly available. But large doses of vitamins, called therapeutic doses, in amounts many times the daily recommended allowances, may not be completely safe.
Research is still in progress about nutrition and macular degeneration. It is best to consult with your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) to decide whether it is advisable for you to begin such treatment.
Reference: American Academy of Ophthalmology
- What is SLT?
- What are the advantages of SLT?
- How is SLT performed?
- Will I feel anything with the laser treatment?
- How often do I need to receive SLT treatments?
- How does SLT work?
- How do I know SLT has worked?
- Is SLT right for me?
- Are there other options available?
- Does SLT work for all types of Glaucoma?
- Will I still need to continue using my eyedrops following the SLT procedure?
- How long will I have to wait to experience the full treatment effect of the SLT laser?
- How long is the recovery time?
- What are the side effects?
Questions To Be Asked By Patients Prior To Eye Surgery:
- May my usual morning dosage of Advil be taken to help relieve my usual morning unsteadiness or possible lightheartedness?
- Should my usual morning eye drops (timoptic and Isoptcarpine) be omitted?
- How long is the operation expected to last?
- Is it completely painless? Does patient lie flat or sit up normally?
- Is an unavoidable sneeze dangerous-even if muffled?
- What time will the hospital car arrive to transport me to the operating room? On the certification slip, can I name the driver as the individual who will “escort me home”?
Questions To Be Asked By Patients After Eye Surgery:
- Are there any restrictions on physical activity?
- May the patient bend over or lean over to do various things necessary in daily life?
- Will straining at stool, as is often required in connection with Metamusil and Surfak, create any problem?
- Will a new prescription be issued to supplement or replace the three eye drops now in use (the three that are now getting low)?
- It is my understanding that this operation involves only the one eye and will have no adverse effect on the other eye?
- Is the operation expected to restore all or most of normal sight to the specific eye?
- If not, will it improve existing vision significantly-such as reducing the extreme glare now experienced outdoors, especially on cloudy days; and improving visual penetration of shaded or dimly lit areas; improving the ability to read ordinary print without straining; and improving the distinctness of distant vision and reducing the often hazy or murky effect noticeable in cloudy weather especially.
- Will the operation dispel or reduce the risk of further loss of sight?
- Does a discussion with the anesthesiologist imply that the patient is offered a choice of some sort or some other benefit?
- Does the certification slip imply that the patient is allowed no breakfast before surgery? If so, could I have permission to take my two Advil capsules with 2 or 3 crackers?