Northern Colorado Fort Collins Region Sees Rise In Macular Degeneration
March 10, 2005
Recent studies by four groups of investigators have uncovered a gene that seems to have a strong association with macular degeneration. Age related macular degeneration is very important in Northern Colorado due to the aging of the population and the high amount of outdoors activities we play at. Unfortunately, these activities increase our exposure to UV radiation from the sun which is a contributing factor in macular degeneration. Better understanding the genetic contributions to age related macualar degeneration by optometrists in Fort Collins and similar environments may lead to preventative treatments in the future. Investigators have identified a gene that is “strongly associated” with a person’s risk for developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The finding was made by four independent teams, which include researchers with the National Eye Institute (NEI) and the National Cancer Institute, components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other leading research centers. Detecting an AMD-associated gene may lead to early detection and new strategies for prevention and treatment for the debilitating eye disease. Papers from three independent teams appear in the April 15 issue of the journal Science, with a fourth paper published in the May 3 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
AMD is a disease well known by Doctors of Optometry, and it blurs or destroys sharp, central vision and is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 60. There is no known cure for AMD but routine eye exams by your eye doctor may help intervention for early treatment. Most scientists think the cause lies in a complex interplay of hereditary and environmental factors. Family history of AMD is a risk factor for the disease. In recent years, researchers have been applying several genome-derived experimental approaches to find AMD-associated genes. The new studies provide the strongest evidence yet of a role for common genetic variants in the development of AMD.
“The four studies are a significant step in AMD research. They confirm a strong genetic component of AMD, which may allow scientists to develop tests for the disease before symptoms begin to appear and when therapies might help slow its progress,” said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute.
Our Fort Collins Optometry Office Provides You WIth The Following Actions You Can Take Now To Lesson Your Risk From Macualr Degeneration:
- Consider fully protective UV sunglasses as a necessity for being outdoors-lenses should also protect into the blue visible light range which means avoid blue lenses.
- Sunglasses from the gas station may allow the eye pupils to dilate without providing UV protection-rely on optical quality sunwear
- In ou Ft Collins Eye Doctors Office we often recommend transitions lenses that lighten inside and darken outside. They have inherent UV protection. Since transition lenses don’t fully activate behind a car window shield, adding a magnetic clip on provides great relief and safe vision for driving home or to work facing the sun. The morning sun reflecting off snow or bodies of water in Northern Colorado can be blinding and dangerous without this added protection. On a good note, the transitions lenses don’t fully activate behind a car window shield because a significant of UV radiation is stopped by a regular automobile window, it’s the glare and eyestrain that overwhelms your capacity to see at dawn and dusk.
- Sunglasses that wrap around the side of the face can lower the UV exposure by another 30-40%
- Hats worn outside will make a marked reduction in the amount of UV and blue visible light that can reach the eyes
- Talk to your optometrist about nutritional supplements for macular degeneration. Science supports using certain supplements at certain points in the disease stage to slow down changes and loss of vision. As someone who spends lots of time outdoors, and as an optometrist in Fort Collins, I frequently use supplements in a different manner to try and prevent or delay the onset of macular degeneration. The jury is out on the effects, but it was not too long ago that the same could be said of the accepted uses and type of supplements being prescribed by eye doctors today that have been found to be effective.
- If you are fair skinned and have blue eyes, double your precautions. Blue eyes have very little pigment and allow much more UV to pas through to potentially damage the retina.
- Stop Smoking. Probably the best preventive measure you can take.
- Eat a healthy diet and exercise well. A healthy cardiovascular system is essential in preventing macular degeneration.
When Eye Doctors fully understand the genetics dehind macualar degeneration, interventions combined with healthy lifestlye choices may make ARMD Blindness a thing of the past!
Make Sure Your Eyes See as Well as They Can and Stay Healthy! Contact Fort Collins Eye Doctors-Dr Kisling For A Complete Eye Health Wellness Exam!
Call Dr Kisling at:(970) 226-0959