Possession of these genes may increase the likelihood of an individual developing macular degeneration by approximately 30 percent. However, most macular diseases have a complex genetic makeup compared with single gene-causation diseases. In most individuals macular degeneration is likely due to both environmental and genetic factors that combine to cause damage and disease.
Genetic typing of patients with macular degeneration is likely to assume more and more importance in the future. It will enable ophthalmologists to identify high-risk individuals and to better understand the relationships between genetic defects, the appearance of the macula and how the disease progresses. This information will hopefully provide scientists with some of the tools they need to develop therapies that can prevent, slow and even arrest the progression of macular degeneration.
What can you or your loved one do if diagnosed with macular degeneration?
First it is important to modify those environmental risk factors that we know about.
1. Eat a low-fat, low cholesterol diet.
2. If you are post menopausal, you should consult with your physician concerning estrogen replacement therapy. This may have a favorable impact upon cholesterol lipid levels that play a role in worsening the disease.
3. Wear sunglasses with UV protection.
4. Try to consume at least two servings of leafy dark green vegetables per day.
5. Do not smoke and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
6. Eat food and or supplements rich in vitamin E,C and Lutein. Lutein is a plant antioxidant found in high quantities in spinach, kale and other dark green, leafy vegetables
Some emerging theories about what may play a role
in causing or worsening macular degeneration:
1. The macular contains many highly active and sensitive photoreceptors that require and consume a great deal of energy. Generating this energy requires a constant, rich supply of oxygen, nutrients and ions. Consequently, the macula has one of the highest rate of blood flow through its supply vessels. Anything that interferes with this necessary rich blood supply can cause the macula to malfunction and possibly become diseased.
2. Smoking can reduce this vital blood supply by contributing to narrowing of the blood vessels and thickening of the blood, as it does in the heart and brain where this process contributes to heart attacks and strokes.
3. A high-fat, high cholesterol diet can lead to fatty plaque deposition in the macular vessels hampering blood flow.
4. A shortage of antioxidants may also increase the tendency for fatty deposits to stick to blood vessel walls.