2011-06-22 / Health

Macular degeneration progress can be slowed

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have the dry type of macular degeneration. I take Preser- Vision with lutein tablets twice a day. I hear lutein is very good for my eyes, and I would like to take more than the 10 mg a day that I get in my tablets. I don’t know how much is safe. My doctor said he didn’t know. Will macular degeneration leave me completely blind? How long will it be before I cannot see anymore? — C.B.

ANSWER: The macula is a small, round area in the center of the retina, the layer at the back of the eye that transmits incoming images to the brain so we can see. The macula is essential for clear, central vision, the kind needed to read, to drive and to recognize faces. Off- to-the-side vision remains. You won’t go completely blind.

Furthermore, dry macular degeneration most often advances gradually. It’s the more common variety, accounting for 90 percent of cases. It can stay at its present level for years, even for life. Wet macular degeneration comes about from the growth of blood vessels beneath the retina. Those vessels are fragile and leak fluid. It tends to advance more rapidly.

Currently no cure exists for dry macular degeneration. A combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene (or vitamin A), zinc and copper appears to slow moderate macular degeneration’s progression to a more advanced stage. Your PreserVision is one such preparation.

Lutein is a plant product that might aid in delaying the advance of dry macular degeneration. At this very moment, a large study is taking place to ascertain the place of lutein in the treatment of this common eye condition. The amount of lutein being tested in the study is 10 mg a day. Lutein appears to be a very safe substance, but I would stick with the 10 mg dose until the present study defines lutein’s place and its optimum dose.

The booklet on macular degeneration explains this prevalent eye problem in great detail. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 701W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address.

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DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Please tell me about posttraumatic stress disorder. I think someone in my family suffers from it. — A.F.

ANSWER: Having faced an event that threatened life or caused serious injury is the basis for post-traumatic stress disorder. The event keeps resurfacing in the mind with a clarity that imparts terror and helplessness, and sometimes guilt. The remembrance can happen during the day or in dreams.

An affected person stays in the alert mode at all times. He or she loses interest in life, neglects those around him or her, suffers from fragmented sleep, often erupts in outbursts of anger and is usually quite depressed. Soldiers, firemen, policemen and those who suffered a sexual or physical attack are people who most often develop PTSD. With the combination of talk treatment and medicines, these people can usually regain their equilibrium and resume a normal life.

Readers may write Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. ©2011 North America Synd.

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