As the American population grows older doctors should expect a significant increase in age-related macular degeneration, according to a new study.
The study, published in the April issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, estimated that by 2050 the number of people with early age-related macular degeneration will double in the U.S. to more
than 17.8 million.
This is expected to result in some 1.6 million cases of visual impairment and blindness in 2050, compared to between 400,000 and 600,000 cases today.
However, the study also says existing medical treatments, provided they are universally available, could reduce the complications by as much as 35 percent.
Dr David Rein, a senior research economist at RTI and the studys lead author, also points out to the beneficial impact of vitamins in preventing vision problems in individuals at risk.
In fact, while the expensive and invasive anti-vascular endothelial growth factor injections are expected to reduce visual impairment and blindness by only 17 percent, the universal use of vitamin prophylactic therapy by all patients with early age-related macular degeneration could reduce vision problems by 23 percent, the study found.
Among the natural compounds that are known to have vision protective properties is the carotenoid lutein which is also available in the form of nutritional supplements.