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Researchers Find Rate of Blindess has been Cut in Half

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The amount of new cases of blindness and extreme visual loss in Denmark, has been cut in half over the past ten years.

Researchers studied the record of 11,848 new cases of legal blindness, and discovered the rate of AMD dropped from 522 cases per million inhabitants aged 50 years or older in 2000, to 257 cases per million in 2010, which shows a 50 percent reduction.

The main reason for the decline is because of a new treatment for wet Age-related mascular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a deterioration or breakdown of the eye’s macula. The macula is a tiny area in the retina that is responsible for central vision, and allows you to see the details of images clearly. It is the most common cause for blindness in the western world.

Wet AMD is when leaking blood vessels form under the the part of the retina that is responsible for sharp central vision. The treatment entails repeated injections into the eye, with medication that suppresses the signaling molecule vasular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

VEGF is a distress signal released from ailing cells of the aging retina, and causes formation of brittle blood vessels that leak blood and create scar formation under the fovea, which is the part of the eye needed for reading. Wet AMD causes people to lose reading ability quite frequently.

“It is therefore very important that we can now show an impact on public health and its wonderful to see a reduction in severe visual loss. The study did not examine moderate visual loss, but there are undoubtedly also a lot of people who avoided loosing their drivers license and their reading vision,” Michael Larsen, Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, at the University of Copenhagen, said in a statement

These findings were published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

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