Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) refers to the deterioration of the macula. Located in the center of the retina, the macula is essential for clear vision. Damage to the macula often results in central vision loss. However, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) does not always cause complete blindness. In some cases peripheral vision will remain; yet, the loss of central vision is detrimental to sight and many find it extremely difficult to rely on peripheral vision for sight. Try reading this post with your head turned sideways…It’s not impossible, but it feels unnatural and odd. In any case, deterioration of the macula and vision loss greatly impacts the way routine activities are accomplished.
The leading cause of vision loss for people aged 60 and older is attributed to AMD. Approximately 10%-15% of those affected have the “wet” (exudative) type of AMD, while 80-90% of individuals have the dry type (or atrophic AMD). Wet AMD is characterized by abnormal blood vessel clusters that are formed under the macula. The abnormally formed vessels tend to bleed and leak beneath the macula, causing scarred tissue accumulation and the macula to lift. A common symptom of wet AMD is the appearance of wavy lines.
Dry AMD progresses slower than wet, and in some cases dry AMD can actually progress to the wet type. Dry AMD is characterized by the degradation of light sensitive cells in the macula. Symptoms of dry AMD include the need for brighter lights while reading, and a blurred or blind spot in the field of sight. The first sign of dry AMD is often an accumulation of drusen (small white or yellow deposits of extracellular material), which are detected during a dilated eye exam. Drusen are comprised of lipids, proteins and inflammatory cells, which led researchers to believe the immune response plays a great role in the pathogenesis of AMD.
Although age is attributed as the cause of AMD, research has identified a link between AMD and inflammation. Together age and other environmental factors increase the number of free radicals within the macula. Free radicals and other deposits of foreign material are major contributors to inflammation due to the amount of stress they exert on cellular tissues. Unfortunately, the immune response that initiates inflammation causes more damage, which is exacerbated by more free radicals and more inflammation, inevitably resulting in scarred tissue and deterioration of the macula. In other words, free radical damage and byproducts of the immune response initiate chronic inflammatory conditions that promote the signs of AMD.
Proteolytic enzymes used in Exclzyme, such as: serrapeptase, bromelain and papain, are capable of addressing the root cause of macular damage, having shown anti-inflammatory and fibrinolytic effects. When taken systemically, enteric coated, proteolytic enzymes are absorbed via the small intestine into the bloodstream, where they catabolize pro-inflammatory debris. It is recommended to take 1-3 capsules 3 times a day; however, the dosage is dependent upon the individual’s risk. Antioxidants and/or zinc supplementation may also slow the progression of AMD. In fact, The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) sponsored by the Federal government found that antioxidant and zinc supplementation can reduce the risk of developing AMD by 25%. AREDS suggests a daily dose of 500 mg of Vitamin C and 80 milligrams of zinc or zinc oxide, 400 IU Vitamin E, 15 mg Vitamin A and copper to prevent copper deficiency from the high dosage of zinc. Although there is currently no known cure for AMD, research continues to support promising alternatives to slow the progression of this condition.