Age-related macular degeneration is a common cause of blindness, affecting about 15 million
American. It is the most common cause of severe vision loss among people over 60.

The condition is characterized by the appearance of retinal deposits. These and other
changes form a barrier between the retinal pigment epithelium and the choroidal circulation.
As a result, new vessels may grow from the choroid and penetrate the retina. These new
vessels are delicate and can leak or bleed. Such episodes occur in the "wet" form of
age-related macular degeneration and cause the well known disciform degeneration, which in
turn leads to distortion of the image and rapid loss of vision. Even when this does not happen,
areas of retina may atrophy, probably due to anoxia: this is the "dry" form of the disease, also
called geographic atrophy. The initial symptoms may include blurry or fuzzy vision, difficulty
recognizing familiar faces, 'wavy' straight lines, dark or empty area appears in the center of
vision and rapid loss of central vision.

In trials, scattered laser burns have been applied to the retina but the long-term benefits of this
are as yet uncertain. New micro-pulse lasers are coming into use which may be more effective.
Surgical treatments include translocation of the retina and photodynamic therapy. Medical
therapies attracting attention are intraocular injections of anti-angiogenic drugs, such as

Researchers believe that combined healthy diets (e.g. non-smoking, rich in omega-3 fatty
acids) [4], health food supplements (such as ginkgo biloba, vitamins C and E, lutein and
zeaxanthin) [2,3], examinations, and proper treatments may reduce age-related macular
degeneration blindness. [1]

Recently, FDA approved Lucentis (ranibizumab injection) for the treatment of patients with
neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lucentis is the first treatment
which, when dosed monthly, can maintain the vision of more than 90 percent of patients with
this type of AMD. The most commonly side effects of Lucentis include conjunctival
hemorrhage, eye pain, floaters, increased eye pressure and inflammation of the eye.  While,
serious side effects are often related to the injection procedure including endophthalmitis,
intraocular inflammation, retinal detachment, retinal tear, increased eye pressure and traumatic
cataract. [5]

[1] Arden GB. Age-related macular degeneration. J Br Menopause Soc. 2006
Jun;12(2):64-70. [2] Evans JR. Ginkgo biloba extract for age-related macular degeneration,
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(2):CD001775 [3] Bartlett H et al, An ideal ocular
nutritional supplement? Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2004 Jul;24(4):339-49. [4] Yvonne Lee -
Eating Fish Reduces Risk Of Eye Disease In Seniors All Headline News July 11, 2006. [5]
FDA Approves New Biologic Treatment for Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration FDA
Online Publication June 30, 2006.

Eating fish frequently may have benefits of cutting the chances of developing age-related
macular degeneration, while smoking nearly doubles the risk for this common cause of vision
In a study of 681 men (average age 75 years; 222 with intermediate/late-stage AMD and 459
had no/early-stage AMD), smokers had a 1.9-fold increased risk of AMD and those smoked in
the past had a 1.7-fold increased risk. Those who ate more fishes were less likely to have
AMD. The greatest reduction in risk was seen among individuals who ate two or more servings
of fish per week. [1] Studies have shown cardioprotective benefits of monounsaturated fatty
acids in the Mediterranean diet and that diets high in n[omega]-3 fatty acids, particularly
docosahexaenoic acid, derived largely from fish, may protect against retinal oxidation and
degeneration. Weekly fish consumption may have additional benefits in protecting against
incident early age-related maculopathy.

[1] Yvonne Lee - Eating Fish Reduces Risk Of Eye Disease In Seniors All Headline News July
11, 2006.
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