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Macular degeneration, Forgetfulness

Created date

October 25th, 2016

Q. I have the dry version of macular degeneration. Are there any new treatments available?

A. Dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), also called geographic atrophy, is the most common type of this disease—the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. for adults age 50 and up. Although the exact cause is unknown, experts believe buildup of waste products called drusen damage the light-sensitive cells in the macula, which is the portion of the retina responsible for central vision. There is no cure or any standard treatment, but two supplements may delay the breakdown of the light-sensitive cells. They were formulated based on research from the National Eye Institute—the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS)—thus, they are called AREDS and AREDS2. 

The AREDS study found that a daily intake of certain high-dose vitamins and minerals can slow progression of the disease in some people who have intermediate AMD and some with late AMD. The AREDS2 study found that adding two pigments (lutein and zeaxanthin) or omega-3 fatty acids to the original AREDS formula may help further reduce the risk of late AMD. There are many research studies investigating treatments such as drugs, stem cells, and laser treatments. Talk to your doctor or an eye care professional to determine the most effective treatment for you.  

Q. Is it normal to become more forgetful as you age? 

A. Some forgetfulness is normal for everyone. Changes occur throughout your body as you age, including in your brain. It may take longer to learn new things, or you may not recall information as quickly as you once did. Stressful life events can also cause you to be temporarily more forgetful, and some medical conditions or medications can contribute to memory problems. Your forgetfulness does not necessarily mean you have a disease process, but if you think it’s happening more often or interfering with your daily activities, see your doctor for a full evaluation.

Please note: The above questions were submitted by readers. The answers are intended for your general information and should not replace a doctor’s medical advice.

Dr. Posner, Medical Director at Maris Grove, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt., and his medical degree from the University of Montpellier in Montpellier, France. He completed his internship at St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal, Canada, and his residency at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Posner also completed a fellowship in pulmonary medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa. Board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary diseases, and geriatrics, Posner joined Maris Grove in June 2009.