Monday, July 23, 2012

Macular Degeneration

I was recently asked by a friend to find out what I could about Macular Degeneration as she had recently discovered from her eye doctor that her sight is failing.  I am not a doctor and the following article is merely an overview of the disease with possible solutions.

This article will cover what Macular Degeneration is, what causes it, and what options are available in treatment.

What is it?

Macular Degeneration is an age related disease, affecting those 50 and older,  that effects the retina of the eye, specifically a small section called the macula, causing slow vision loss in the center of the field of vision. The macula provides detail, focus, and color, the loss thereof enabling only peripheral vision. Macular degeneration may only affect one eye or one eye may be worse than the other.

There are two types of Macular Degeneration- age related, and non-age related.  Those who are statistically more susceptible are white, female, smokers, and the obese (those whose Mass Body Index is 30+). 
BMI chart

Within the age related macular degeneraion (AMD) there are two types, wet and dry.  Dry AMD occurs as the the cells of the macula break down. 

"The breakdown [of cells] can cause a blurred spot in the center of your vision, often called geographic atrophy. Over time, the blurred spot may get bigger and dark, taking away a larger area of your straight-ahead vision." (
An early sign that someone has AMD, as it is only visually perceivable in the advanced stages, is called drusen. Drusen are yellow deposits on the eye, under the retina, that tend to become larger as the damage progresses. Dry AMD is the most common and those with wet AMD had dry first. The progression of each can be gradual or quick but it does not cause complete blindness as the peripheral vision is retained.

Wet AMD occurs when the blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula, and leak blood and fluid. This then causes the macula to swell and damage occurs quickly and  can cause scarring of the retina.

The cause of non-age related macular degeneration is generally unknown but is claimed as being caused by heredity, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, head or eye injuries, or infection.


Above all else, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will be the best preventative that you can actively do every day and the benefits will be widespread. I personally recommend taking a whole foods multi-vitamin and mineral supplement and an Omega 3,6 vitamin at the very least. Common food sources are highly manufactured and nutritionally deficient, this includes our produce as the soil is no longer allowed to rest to replenish nutrients, and is sprayed with chemicals almost constantly.

Popular supplements that can be taken to assist in maintaining healthy eyes are:

lutein- a powerful carotanoid and antioxidant that is found in leafy greens- like spinach and kale.
zeathaxinstrongest antioxidant carotenoid found in the retina, supports daily activity of the macula.
astathaxin- a super powerful antioxidant that gives sea creatures their pink/red color. Has MANY benefits.
black current- similar to bilberry, but stronger and more beneficial.
bilberry- contains anthocyanosides that protect and stimulat the purple pigmant that helps the rods in your eyes transistion from light to dark light.

There is currently no treatment available for dry AMD however, a diet of dark leafy greens, vegetables, and fish may help reduce the chances of developing AMD. Visit your eye doctor annually to check for drusen, especially if macular degeneration runs in your family.

There are several different treatments available for wet AMD, and as I am not a fan of needles or lasers most of these are scary to me!

1. Drug injections to counteract the abnormal blood vessel growth.

2. Photodynamic theropy: a drug is injected into your arm and travels through the blood vessels to your eye where it is activated with a laser beam and it destroys the abnormal blood vessels. 

3. Laser surgery: they use a laser and destroy the abnormal blood vessels but can also cause damage to healthy tissues potentially causing more blurred vision.

(Yikes! Does anyone else think that these options would hurt!?)

4. The most current form of treatment for severe wet AMD is  a stem cell injection treatment where the cells are injected into the retina to stimulate new growth and to repair damage.

"The idea is to replace those faulty cells with new retinal pigment epithelium, or RPE,  cells, which are grown from embryonic stem cells."
Although positive results have been seen, the doctors who are studying this new form of treatment are unsure if the new cells will be rejected after the subjects stop taking the immunosuppression drugs, or if the vision changes will hold, and if further shots may be required to maintain the gained sight.

Non-AMD is an auto-immune disorder that may be related to another disease where the macular degeneration is a symptom of the bigger problem.

For those affected by Non-AMD first make sure your immune system is functioning properly to elimate the possibility of a chronic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or MS being the cause.  If the immune system is working well then the source of the problem could be the liver.

Problem may come from three sources:
1. lacking nutritional supplementation/ poor absorption in the digestive track
2. known/unknown infections--Candida Albicans overgrowth most popular
3. Heavy metal/toxin buildup

What I find interesting is that if the macular degeneration is due to age doctors assume that it doesn't have similar roots to non-age related macular degeneration.
"Younger patients who suffer from macular degeneration often have forms other than the wet and dry forms. Little is known about this form of the disease, but it is possible that non-age related macular degeneration is linked to heredity, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, eye or head injuries, or infection."
I personally believe that there is likely an overarching problem/disease that the body is fighting - or being suppressed, that may be causing, or have caused the damage to the eye.

In Dr. Vogal's natural health book, The Nature Doctor, he has this to say concerning eye health:
"Since liver disorders, constipation and overtiredness can also be the causes of eye troubles, make sure that both the liver and the bowels are functioning properly. The liver is best restored to good working order by a liver diet (see page 247) and by taking Chelidonium 4x and Podophyllum 4x or Boldocynara liver drops. Very often constipaption will disappear at the same time, but if this should not be the case, use a natural remedy for it."
Vogel, Verlag A. The Nature Doctor. New York, New York: Instant Improvement Inc., 1991. Pg. 69. ISBN: 0-941683-27-3

For supurb, fast absorbing nutritional supplement to your meals try juicing these fruits and veggies for great eye health cocktails!

I Can See Now!

8 Organic Carrots
4 Stalks Celery
1 Orange Bell Pepper
1 Lemon
Push ingredients through juicer and pour into a tall glass!
Recipe and picture  courtsey of Penni from

Hot Emerald Juice

2 big handfuls of spinach
a few basil leaves
1 cucumber
1 pear
1 inch ginger (or more if you can handle it!)

Recipe courtesy of Mermadria from

Liver Mover

2-3 Carrots
1/2 Beet
Recipe courtesy of VeganForLife from

I hope this article was helpful in answering some practical questions. If any of the information that I have provided here, please message me and let me know so that I can fix it. For further information (and a bit more detailed) check out the links below!

Thanks for reading!

Resourced Articles for Further Reading: