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Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Authors


For questions or comments, contact Lily K. Cheung, 2450 Holcombe Blvd. Suite 2-25G, Houston, TX 77021; e-mail: cheunglk@tsu.edu

Abstract

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly, and the prevalence of the disease increases exponentially with every decade after age 50 years. It is a multifactorial disease involving a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, metabolic, and functional factors. Besides smoking, hypertension, obesity, and certain dietary habits, a growing body of evidence indicates that inflammation and the immune system may play a key role in the development of the disease. AMD may progress from the early form to the intermediate form and then to the advanced form, where two subtypes exist: the nonneovascular (dry) type and the neovascular (wet) type. The results from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study have shown that for the nonneovascular type of AMD, supplementation with high-dose antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, and β-carotene) and zinc is recommended for those with the intermediate form of AMD in one or both eyes or with advanced AMD or vision loss due to AMD in one eye. As for the neovascular type of the advanced AMD, the current standard of therapy is intravitreal injections of vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors. In addition, lifestyle and dietary modifications including improved physical activity, reduced daily sodium intake, and reduced intake of solid fats, added sugars, cholesterol, and refined grain foods are recommended. To date, no study has demonstrated that AMD can be cured or effectively prevented. Clearly, more research is needed to fully understand the pathophysiology as well as to develop prevention and treatment strategies for this devastating disease.

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