Aging Eyes Need Attention

Your retina functions like the film in a camera. When the film malfunctions, the picture gets less clear. Such is the case with macular degeneration.

Topeka opthamologist Dr. Babek Marefat says macular degeneration is when the center of the retina starts withering away and falling apart. The result is loss of your central vision. Your peripheral vision remains.

The condition is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55. You could see signs of it when you're a lot younger. Dr. Maretaf says, in the early stages, people notice items or lines in a text that are no longer straight or dark or gray spots in the center of their vision.

More than 1.6 million Americans have advanced macular degeneration and 13 million more have some evidence of it. Unfortunately, there is no cure. However, Dr. Marefat says there is evidence smoking increases your chance of developing it, and some studies have shown certain vitamins and antioxidents could slow it down. Right now, though, the best advice is diligence.

"So many times you can have signs of macular degeneration that go unnoticed by the patient," he said. Regular annual visits to an eye doctor, he said, will pick things up early, and once it's caught, doctors can help you focus on preserving the vision you have.

You can learn more about the disease through the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, www.amdf.org, or the National Institutes of Health, www.nih.gov.


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