Age-Related Macular Degeneration
by Robert F. Barbe, M.D.
Surveys indicate that the most common diagnosis
among our listeners is Age-Related Macular Degeneration. As
the name implies, this is most common among older people.
It damages or distorts the central vision, which is the vision we
use for seeing small details, such as reading and recognizing faces.
There is good news about this condition.
Doctors are learning more about it. New treatments can help
some patients that were previously untreatable. Unfortunately,
new treatments are often extremely expensive and, because they are
new, Medicare, Medicaid and insurance coverage is uncertain.
Some of the new treatments require injections into the eyeball, with
possibilities of complications.
The new treatments do not relieve people of the need
to prevent or slow the progression of the disease with good living
habits. These include:
If you use tobacco - STOP!
Eat a balanced diet including green, leafy, and
If you have high blood pressure, get it under
If you have diabetes, get it under control.
If an eye care professional recommends a
vitamin-mineral supplement, take it as directed. Taking other
vitamin or mineral preparations or larger amounts than directed is
a waste of money and may even be harmful.
Some Tips for Eye Health
by Robert F. Barbe, M.D.
A simple eye health scheme can be as follows:
Keep your face clean, especially around your
eyes. Washing the eyebrows and lashes with a mild soap or
detergent such as baby shampoo (which does not burn if a little
gets in the eyes) can be helpful in reducing eye
infections. Keep your environment clean. Dirt and
dust from your home or workplace can damage your eyes.
Eat a balanced diet and be sure to include
fruits and green and yellow vegetables, such as carrots.
The vitamins found in these vegetables are helpful in preventing
several eye diseases. This is especially important for
small children and infants between breast feeding and the use of
adult foods. Avoid or minimize the use of convenience
foods and "junk foods." They tend to have too
much salt, sugar and starch. Some have too much of the
wrong kinds of fats. Even when the label indicates that
vitamins have been added, they may lack essential
nutrients. Sweet flavored soft drinks can have large amounts
of sugar without vitamins or other nutrients.
Avoid sharp objects and flying particles.
Use safety glasses when needed, especially in the workplace. Avoid medications
that can dry or otherwise
damage the eyes. If such medicines are necessary,
compensate by using artificial tears or saline eye drops.
Immunizations can prevent numerous diseases and
some (such as measles) can affect the eyes. Immunizations
are not for children only. Adults should also review their
immunization records periodically. Consult a physician to
determine what immunizations are right for you.