Professor: Stem cell treatment could cure macular degeneration
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Researchers believe the eyes hold important clues to several aspects of human health related to the vascular system. This is because the arrangement of blood vessels at the back of the eye is closely linked to the health of the heart. According to new scientific findings, any damage to this intricate system could reflect damage to the vital organs.
New research by the Mount Sinai Hospital has found a strong link between a specific form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and serious cardiovascular events.
The study, published in BMJ Open Ophthalmology, is the first to identify which types of cardiovascular disease are associated with the eye disorder.
Researchers established that patients with the condition were also likely to have underlying heart damage, advanced valve disease or carotid artery disease.
These complications are closely linked to severe cardiac events like heart attacks and strokes.
The scientific findings suggest these complications could be avoided if action is taken early enough to save a person’s vision.
The lead author of the study, R. Theodore Smith, noted: “For the first time, we have been able to connect these specific high-risk cardiovascular diseases to a specific form of AMD, the one with sub-retinal drusenoid deposits (SDDs).
“This study is the first strong link between the leading cause of blindness, AMD, and heart disease, the lead cause of death worldwide.”
“Furthermore, we also have strong evidence for what actually happens,” added the Mount Sinai researcher.
It was established that the blood supply is directly lowered by the diseases, either by heart damage that hinders blood flow throughout the body, or a blocked carotid artery that impedes blood flow to the eye.
“A poor blood supply can cause damage to any part of the body, and with these specific diseases, the destroyed retina and leftover SDDs are that damage.
“Retinal damage means vision loss, and can lead to blindness.”
AMD is an eye disorder that affects approximately 1.5 million people in the UK.
It is more commonly reported among people in their 50s and 60s due to abnormal blood vessels leaking fluid or blood into the macula.
This part of the eye is responsible for central vision, which the eyes use for activities like driving and reading.
In sub-retinal drusenoid deposits (SDDs), small yellow cholesterol deposits form under part of the retina.
This starves the retina of vital blood and oxygen, which eventually lead to the development of blindness.
According to the study’s results, AMD patients with the severe cardiovascular vascular disease were nine times more likely to have SDDs than those without them.
There is evidence the drusen formation can be delayed with appropriate vitamin supplementation, but vitamins cannot cure it.
This is according to research conducted by the National Eye Institute, which discovered a nutritional supplement formulation that saves off the advanced stages of AMD.
The formulation comprised vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and copper, but none of these vitamins should be taken without the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider.
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