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Radio Shows | Macular Degeneration (contributing author - Emma Loucks, M.D.; UTMB) | mp3wmawav

The problem is clear. One out of every six Americans ages 55 to 64 suffers from macular degeneration - a problem that can lead to blindness.

Before we explain what causes it, let's look at how the eye works. The retina - opposite the lens inside our eyes - contains millions of light sensitive cells, called rods and cones.

When the lens projects an image onto the retina the rods and cones detect the image as different intensities and colors of light. The brain then interprets these signals and assembles them into the mental image of what it is we are looking at.

Macular degeneration happens when the light sensing cells in the center of the retina, the macula, malfunction and die.

There are two forms of macular degeneration. About 90-percent of the cases are the dry form, in which yellowish spots of fatty deposits appear on the light sensing cells.

The rest of the cases are the wet form. It happens when newly formed blood vessels in the choroid which is behind the retina and normally supply nutrients and carry away waste . bleed into the retina.

Recently the FDA approved the use of a new drug called Lucentis for the treatment of the wet form of macular degeneration. Lucentis stops the blood vessels from growing to begin with. The drug is injected directly into the eye and typically requires monthly injections for at least a year.

Finally, there is a treatment for a disease that steals the sight from 200,000 Americans every year. So if you think your vision is changing, don't chance it. See your eye doctor.

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For more information...

Macular Degeneration Foundation (MDF) was founded as a charitable medical research and educational foundation dedicated to: "Research to Restore Vision." Their website is a good source of information about this disease and has links to resources for those afflicted.

The National Eye Institute (NEI) was established by Congress in 1968 to protect and prolong the vision of the American people. As one of the Federal government's National Institutes of Health (NIH), the NEI conducts and supports research that helps prevent and treat eye diseases and other disorders of vision. This online resource guide provides information about macular degeneration. It answers questions about its causes and symptoms, and discusses diagnosis and types of treatment.

The Mayo Clinic web site is a good source of information about a variety of health issues including Macular degeneration. They have posted a comprehensive overview that covers symptoms, risk factors, treatment of this serious eye disease.


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