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D. Understanding & Treating Severe Vision Loss in the Elderly

Narrator: This is Science Today. Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, affects about one in three elderly people in the United States. According to ophthalmologist Jacque Duncan of the University of California, San Francisco, aside from age, other risk factors include smoking, hypertension and having lighter colored eyes.

Duncan: Fortunately, ninety percent of the people with the disease won't end up losing vision due to it, however because it is so common, one in ten people who have it will develop new blood vessels under the retina, which is known as the wet form of AMD.

Narrator: The wet form of the disease is much more much severe and is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in older people. Duncan led a study that found that anti-cholesterol medications known as statins and aspirin may protect against severe vision loss in the elderly.

Duncan: The medicines that we're talking about are relatively safe, but they're not without side effects, so I'm not telling people to go take them right now by any means. I think it's an important observation and I think it warrants further study.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.