Macular Degneration

Article by Angela Haldane

Q. I have a condition called Macular Degeneration which I have had for many years. I’m wondering how I can naturally slow its progress – any suggestions?

A. Macular degeneration (MD) is an ailment characterized by the degeneration of the macula of the retina of the eye in elderly people. Initially there is diminished vision from the central field of vision and then widens to afflict peripheral vision. The initial effect is blurred or distorted vision. Lines that would appear straight now appear to be “wavy”. With time it can progress to cause the blockage of the centre of sight, causing frontal blindness. Recent evidence suggests that macular degeneration may be a localised form of atherosclerosis – in the eyes.

Taurine , which concentrates in the macula of the retina acts as an antioxidant to counteract MD. Other antioxidants which have shown to prevent MD include selenium 200mcg per day, zinc 80mg daily, vitamins C and E, lipoic acid which can penetrate eye tissue and through its antioxidant properties can protect both the lens and the retina from degeneration.

Bilberry is a potent herbal antioxidant which concentrates in the eye, and Gingko biloba which increases cerebral blood flow are both recommended for MD.

The nicotinic acid form of vitamin B3 causes vasodilation of the artery that supplies the retina and thereby preventing MD by supplying nourishment to the retina. A naturopath would be able to source these for you.

Regular, moderate red wine consumption can reduce the risk of MD by approximately 20% .

Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight, tobacco smoking and excessive consumption of cholesterol in your diet (animal fats). Excessive intake of margarine, due to the high polyunsaturated fatty acids can be detrimental for MD.