DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Everything I read or hear about macular degeneration is always about dry macular degeneration. I happen to have the wet kind, and would like to know what its treatments are. I’ve heard that vitamins work. Do they? Thank you. — T.R.
ANSWER: In the well-off countries of the world, macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50. There are two varieties, wet and dry. The dry kind is the more common of the two, accounting for 85 percent to 90 percent of all macular degeneration cases. Both involve deterioration of the macula, a small circle on the retina, jam-packed with vision cells necessary for high-resolution sight like reading, watching TV, distinguishing faces and driving.
Wet macular degeneration comes from a sudden proliferation of fragile blood vessels blossoming in and around the macula. Those vessels leak fluid and blood, and disrupt that sensitive area of sight. Wet macular degeneration often comes on quickly and can progress rapidly.
You might have heard of the vitamin-mineral mixture used for slowing the progression of macular degeneration. It consists of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and the minerals zinc and copper. It is much more useful for dry macular degeneration. For wet macular degeneration, eye doctors can inject the eye with medicines that stop the generation and growth of new, delicate blood vessels. Lucentis and Avastin are two examples.
Photodynamic therapy is another method of handling wet degeneration. Here, a drug that is sensitive to light is injected into a blood vessel. The drug localizes in the newly formed, fragile, troublemaking macular vessels. A laser is flashed on those vessels and they dry up.
I don’t know if your doctor has suggested any treatment. It may be that you’re not at a stage when therapy would provide the most benefit.
The booklet on macular degeneration describes the disease and its treatments. To obtain a copy, write: Dr. Donohue — No. 701W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I crave salt. I sprinkle it heavily on an egg in the morning. At noon I sprinkle it on potatoes, and in the evening on meat, corn or tomatoes. As a snack I eat raw potatoes sprinkled heavily with salt. My mother used lots of salt on her food. She lived to be 96. — B.
ANSWER: Most often, salt craving is a learned hankering. You were conditioned to grab the saltshaker by your mother, and she, probably, by her mother. You should conquer the salt habit. Even though it didn’t hurt your mother and apparently hasn’t hurt you, too much salt can raise blood pressure.
Slowly wean yourself off your high-salt diet. Cook and season with things like lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, pepper and the large array of herbs and spices found in every grocery store. In a month or so, you’ll wonder how you tolerated so much salt on your food. You’ll experience tastes that salt had been completely obliterating.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475.
©2008 North America Synd.