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The Macular Degeneration Epidemic: Beyond UV Protection

The number of people with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) will increase significantly over the next 20 years. The statistics are startling; 2.7 million Americans will develop Dry AMD, and 210,000 will develop wet AMD each year through the year 2050. There currently are 2,321 Retinal Specialists registered with the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Some quick, back-of-the-envelope math shows we are woefully under-prepared for the coming AMD epidemic.

So, what can we do as eyecare practitioners? In an infectious epidemic, measures such as quarantine, improved hygiene, vaccinations, etc. are undertaken to stop its spread. AMD is largely inherited with underlying systemic and environmental causes. Therefore, comprehensive programs for detection, risk assessment, education, monitoring, treatment programs, and prevention must be undertaken to limit the effects of AMD. As a profession, we are uniquely qualified (and even obliged) to lead the fight against this devastating disease.

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