The following information has been provided by Jane Semel, M.D.:

Keeping your eyes healthy as you age

I’m sure most everyone knows someone with macular degeneration. What exactly is macular degeneration? The macula is part of the retina representing your central vision, and it’s the central fine vision that gives you the acuity to see fine details and to read or drive.

The macula can deteriorate very slowly or overnight, and until recently, not much could be done about it. So what can you do about it if you have it or just want to prevent it?

Nutrition plays a key role in that vitamins, particularly antioxidants, have been shown to decrease the risk of loss of vision in people that have early signs of the disease. So eat your leafy green vegetables and fruits or take a supplement. Vitamins C, E, A and zinc are very helpful.

We also know that smoking causes poor vision and macular degeneration. Is there a better reason to quit? Some new drugs on the market look very promising, and seem to bring back some vision in some people.

You will undoubtedly be hearing about these in the future, so stay tuned and learn more about some of these drugs (Macugen, Lucentis and Avastatin are a few). You can’t change your DNA (well, technically you can), but you can change your lifestyle and stay healthy as long as possible as you age.

Hate your reading glasses? I did.

As an ophthalmologist, I’ve spent years listening to my aging patients complain about their near vision. I’d always reassure them that this change was a natural part of aging. Though I’d known my time would come, I did not expect it so soon. Now I finally know first-hand what my patients were going through.

Becoming completely dependent on reading glasses to see menus, my cell phone and iPod, I anxiously researched the new technologies available for this condition officially called presbyopia.

Several procedures had been tried to improve the aging eye’s ability to focus up close, but none were safe enough or reproducible enough for me to consider. Finally, just when I’d had enough of not being able to see my iPod while working out, something safe and new was FDA-approved for restoring reading vision.

I was so impressed with the safety profile and effectiveness of this new procedure called CK or Conductive Keratoplasty that I recently had it done for my birthday. It works rapidly as radio waves are applied in a ring-like fashion to reshape the cornea and to enhance its focusing power.

Will it last forever? No, it can’t stop me from aging, but it has taken me back to where I was five years ago.

Dr. Semel is a board-certified ophthalmic surgeon, practicing in Los Angeles since 1987. She is skilled at a wide variety of microsurgical techniques – laser vision correction to complex retinal detachment surgery – and remains up-to-date on new macular degeneration techniques.

Semel Vision Care is at 8540 Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 1007, Westchester.

Information, (310) 641-1700, or www.semelvision.com.

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