Macular Degeneration is a disease that can wreak havoc on the vision and quality of life for many patients. There have been many well designed studies performed to study this disease, its treatment, its causes and its prevention. One of the best designed and executed studies to date was the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS for short). This study found that patients who were at increased risk to develop MD could reduce this risk by approximately 25% by taking a nutritional supplement that contained; Vitamins A, E and C and the minerals Zinc and Copper. These patients could not achieve the same risk reduction by diet alone. That last sentence is critical. It means that naturally occurring vitamins and minerals could not equal the protective value of a readily available nutritional supplement.
Other studies looking at the protective properties of nutrients/pigments such as Lutein have found that patients who have a low level of Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin in their macula are roughly TWICE as likely to develop MD as patients with average or high levels of these nutrients. Until recently, it was difficult to recommend specific supplements for these nutrients, because patients with normal and high levels of them in their macula would not benefit from them, it is only the patients with low levels who will benefit from them.
We have technology in the office which measures the level of these three critical pigments in a quick, non-invasive and easy to perform test. This technology is called the “MacuScope”. By evaluating patients for the density of these pigments we can detect patients who are at elevated risk for MD and make scientifically guided supplement recommendations. The hope is to reduce my patients’ risk for MD, before the disease shows up and robs them of vision.
I feel so strongly about this testing and its value to my patients that we include the testing in our comprehensive eye examinations at no additional charge.