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 Herbal Medicine: Macular Degeneration 
 
Donald Brown J. ND ©
Also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), this condition is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in adults over 50 years of age. The incidence of AMD in persons over 65 years of age is 10 percent and increases to more than 28 percent in those over 75 years old. Cases in the United States are predicted to rise from 2.7 million in 1970 to more than 7.5 million by the year 2030. Approximately 20 percent of new cases of blindness in the United States are due to AMD.

Age-related macular degeneration refers to a degeneration of the macular disk-the portion of the retina of the eye responsible for precise vi sion. Age-related macular degeneration destroys central vision and affects the ability to read or do close work, to drive, and to differentiate colors and faces. A classic early symptom of AMD is a person complaining that door frames appear bent or wavy. The condition can often be aggravated by high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.1

A major focus of research on AMD over the last few years has been the role of free radical damage in the macula caused by high sun exposure and ultraviolet B light. As with cataracts, AMD occurs more frequently in areas of year-round sunlight.


Herbal Prescriptions

Treatment of Early-Stage Macular Degeneration and Prevention

Ginkgo biloba extract-120 to 240 milligrams daily in two to three di vided doses2

Actions: Protects the retina of the eye and slows the progression of macular degeneration in the early stages


Prevention
Bilberry extract-See the instructions for use under "Cataracts"


Nutritional Supplement Considerations
In addition to the recommendations listed previously for the prevention/treatment of cataracts, consider the following:

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin-Oral supplement providing 6 to 10 milligrams of each carotenoid3
  • Zinc (monomethionine or citrate)-30 milligrams daily4

    Note: The research study cited used 80 milligrams of zinc daily.

    I think this is too high for long-term use


    Dietary Recommendations
    Please review the dietary recommendations in the "Cataracts" section of my book, Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. For prevention of macular degeneration, it's best to get plenty of vegetables high in carotenes especially lutein and zeaxanthin. Examples include kale, spinach, and collard greens.5

    Eye Gear Recommendation
    If you have AMD or are at risk for AMD, YOU should consult an ophthalmologist to obtain protective eye wear for use in bright sunlight.

  • (Excerpted from Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health:
    Your Everyday Guide to Prevention, Treatment, and Care ISBN: 0761503234)
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