2001-10-17 / Seniors

Treatment Found For Eye Disorder

By John Toscano

One of the leading causes of vision loss among seniors is macular degeneration, a disease which destroys the central portion of the retina, the organ at the back of the eye which lets in light.

Macular degeneration causes yellowish deposits to accumulate at the back of the eye, causing the center of the viewing area to blur, making reading difficult and causing problems in recognizing faces and objects.

Relief may be in sight to treat this disease, according to results of a study done at the National Eye Institute. The study found that for people who already have significant yellowish deposits accumulating at the back of the eye, treatment with a combination of dietary supplements has proven effective in cutting their risk of vision loss.

The supplements consist of a combination of zinc and the antioxidants Vitamin C, Vitamin E and beta carotene.

Describing the results, Dr. Frederick Ferris, director of clinical research at the National Eye Institute, stated, "We were surprised at how effective it is, given it is just supplements."

Ferris cautioned that the treatment did not protect against the formation of cataracts, which surprised him and others involved in the study. The 4,757 participants in the study ranged in age from 55 to 80 and were studied for 6.5 years on average.

Cataracts and glaucoma strike more people than does macular degeneration, but there are effective treatments for these conditions. Macular degeneration "is the one disease for which we had nothing prior to this," Dr. Ferris said.

Individuals are cautioned not to experiment with the described new treatment, but should consult their opthalmologists if they have been diagnosed with macular degeneration.

NEW MEMBER ORIENTATION: An orientation meeting of new members of the Elderplan HMO is scheduled for next Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. at the Palace Diner, 60-15 Main St., Flushing, corner of Long Island Expressway.

Elderplan is the only social HMO in New York state. It is available to seniors who maintain Medicare Parts A and B at no additional charge. It provides a comprehensive and coordinated program of preventive, acute and longterm care coverage.

MARKEY GETS METROCARD BUS: A MetroCard bus will be in front of Assemblymember Margaret Markey’s district office at 84-32 Grand Ave. in Maspeth next Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Seniors and people with disabilities are urged to come to the bus to secure a reduced fare MetroCard or to renew an existing one. Bring identification and proof of age, and, if disabled, a doctor’s note for documentation. Photographs will be taken on the bus and temporary cards will issued, Markey (D–Maspeth) said.

WEPRIN ALSO SPONSORS METROCARD BUS: Another assemblymember, Mark Weprin (D–Bayside), also announced that the MetroCard Mobile Sales Service Van will be in front of his district office at 61-08 224th St., Bayside, on Thursday, Oct. 25 from noon to 2 p.m. For information, call (718) 428-7900.

FALL PROGRAM RUNNING: The Kew Gardens Community Center at 82-02 Kew Gardens Rd. in Kew Gardens near Borough Hall has begun its fall program which includes a variety of programs. The programs run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For further details call (718) 268-2690.

MEETING: AARP Chapter number 1762 in Richmond Hill, which would usually be meeting on the first Thursday of the month (Nov. 8) will instead meet on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 1 p.m. at Church of the Resurrection, 85-09 118 St., Kew Gardens.

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