Discovery puts end of age-related macular degeneration in sight

Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss for people over the age of 60.

What happens is this…

The very center of your retina, known as the macula, begins to deteriorate. And as that light-sensing tissue is destroyed bit by bit, you lose your central visual acuity. This makes everyday tasks like reading, watching TV, driving or using a computer difficult, to say the least… and in some cases impossible.

And here’s where it gets really tricky…

A common but complex eye disease

There are actually two different forms of age-related macular degeneration you can end up with. All forms of AMD start out as “dry” AMD. About 10 percent of “dry” AMD diagnoses will advance to what’s known as “wet” AMD.

While the medical community has known for some time that the wet version is caused by the development of leaky blood vessels in the eye, the initial cause behind dry AMD has remained a mystery. And I’m sure you can guess the problem that not knowing the reason behind the disease has led to.

For starters, if you get dry AMD, you can’t help but worry if your condition will progress to wet, where there’s a 90 percent likelihood you could become legally blind.

Related: 3 sneaky reasons your vision goes bad (and 3 ways to save it)

And while there are medical therapies available that help manage the care of wet AMD, there have been no treatments or therapies approved for dry AMD. This has left millions of people suffering from gradual visual impairment, while more and more are diagnosed each year, with little hope to hold on to.

Until now…

Thanks to a new study by scientists at Trinity College Dublin, the cause behind dry AMD has finally been discovered — and with it, there’s new hope for both overcoming and even preventing the disease.

A common cause found

You know how we said that wet AMD is attributed to leaky blood vessels in the eyes of patients with the disease?

Well, surprisingly, dry AMD is no different.

Those Dublin scientists found that a key component of the cells lining the retinal blood vessels, called claudin-5, may be central to the development of dry AMD. In preclinical models, they found that claudin-5 leads to leaky blood vessels and pre-disposed the eye to developing features of dry AMD.

So, what initially brings about age-related macular degeneration in the first place, is defected blood vessels of the eye. Previously scientist thought the problems with the blood vessels did not occur until the development of wet AMD.

“We were initially surprised that these blood vessels of the inner retina contributed to an AMD-like pathology, however it now appears that their dysfunction may represent one of the earliest initiating factors of the disease,” said Dr. Natalie Hudson, a postdoctoral researcher at Trinity, and first author of the study.

The scientists say this revelation will allow them to develop new therapies specifically targeted at regulating the integrity of the retina’s blood vessels that, over time, may help prevent the development of dry AMD.

Why wait?

But I have a question for you. Why wait?

If it’s a problem occurring with the blood vessels that causes the disease, there’s a nutrient that’s already been proven to give AMD a run for the money…

Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis gave resveratrol (a powerful and much-studied antioxidant found in the skin of red grapes and red wine) to mice that develop abnormal blood vessels and a condition like age-related macular degeneration. The mice that received the resveratrol didn’t grow as many abnormal blood vessels — so the researchers believe that resveratrol could be the future of preserving vision and plan to continue their research.

And it’s really not so hard to believe when you consider the fact the Mayo Clinic has also reported that resveratrol may help prevent damage to the lining of blood vessels.

So, if you want to boost the health of your blood vessels to help ward off age-related macular degeneration, listen to the research.

The foods highest in resveratrol are peanuts, pistachios, grapes, red and white wine, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, and dark chocolate.

And you could of course supplement. My go-to source is Peak ResV+ Superfruits because in addition to the optimal dose of resveratrol it gives you, it also delivers a host of other powerful antioxidants from acai, goji berry, elderberry, mangosteen and more.

One thing the researchers at Washington University School of Medicine noted is that resveratrol has been shown to have good oral bioavailability. That means you can eat it in food or pop it as a supplement and your body puts it to work. That beats an injection to the eye any day!

Source: Scientists make major breakthrough in understanding common eye disease–Trinity College Dublin, News and Events


Virginia Tims-Lawson

By Virginia Tims-Lawson

Virginia Tims-Lawson has dedicated her life to researching and studying natural health after her mother had a stroke that left her blind in one eye at the age of 47, and her grandmother and two great uncles died from heart attacks. Spurred by her family history, Virginia’s passion to improve her and her family’s health through alternative practices, nutrients and supplements has become a mission she shares through her writing. She is the founder and Chief Research officer for Peak Pure & Natural.