Down East Radio Reading Service, Inc. Post Office Box 8706 Rocky Mount, NC 27804  

Phone: 252.443.7551

Your Eyes

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:

  1. If you use tobacco - STOP!

  2. Eat a balanced diet including green, leafy, and yellow vegetables.

  3. If you have high blood pressure, get it under control.

  4. 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.


NC Library for the Blind & Handicapped

North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind

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