Two recent studies from the Journal of the American Medical Association/Ophthalmology are of interest to those worried about macular degeneration. The first concerns whether vitamin supplements are of use for those with a family history of macular degeneration but who have no evidence of the condition themselves. The second concerns the frequency of macular degeneration in the “Baby Boom” generation.
As far as the vitamins, it appears that they are of no use in those who do not actually have macular degeneration. That is consistent with the advice we have been giving for years: if you have a relative of macular degeneration you should incorporate leafy green vegetables into your diet on a regular basis, you should not smoke and you should wear sunglasses outside. The vitamins (knows as AREDS2) are of use for those who actually have evidence of macular degeneration. They have been shown to decrease the progression from the mild “dry” to the more aggressive “wet” form.
The second article is good news for baby boomers! It appears the risk of developing macular degeneration has declined over the last three generation based on the longitudinal Beaver Dam (yes this is based on Wisconsinites!) study. Those born between 1901 and 1924 (“Greatest Generation”) had a 12% chance of developing macular degeneration, those born between 1925 and 1945 (“Silent Generation”) had a 4% chance and those born between 1946 and 1964 (“Baby Boom Generation”) only have a 1.5% risk of developing this debilitating visual condition.
Similar good news is out there for heart disease and dementia. So keep the healthy diet and lifestyle changes that we now know are important to our wellbeing and hopefully you will enjoy good vision for years to come.
Dr. Martha Jay is a board certified Ophthalmologist practicing at Madison Medical Eye Care with offices in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin. She specializes in medical and surgical eye care such as blade-free LASIK and small incision cataract surgery.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.MadisonMedicalEyeCare.com.