Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Macular Degeneration Involves Problem in Retina

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Macular Degeneration Involves Problem in Retina

Article excerpt

Dear Dr. Donohue: Please tell me what you can about macular degeneration. I know it comes with age, but what can be done about it? Does it get progressively worse? What can I take for it?

(MACK-you-lahr) degeneration is a retina problem, the retina being that delicate layer of cells lining the back of the eye. Retina cells convert light rays into brain images, roughly to the eye what film is to a camera.

The macula is the most sensitive area of the retina, its center. Macular degeneration is, as the phrase implies, a withering of the area. Why it happens is not at all clear.

The non-central area of the retina remains intact, so macular degeneration does not produce total blindness. The impact is in the loss of vision for reading and fine work, such as sewing. The degree and rate of loss vary from patient to patient.

A short time ago, a zinc medicine remedy was suggested, but its efficacy, questioned then, is still being debated. More mundane approaches, such as use of magnifying lenses, are more certain.

There are two kinds of macular degeneration. I have been speaking of the more common "dry" kind, which makes up 80 percent of cases. Wet macular degeneration begins with a sprouting of a tangle of small blood vessels in the affected area. That kind is sometimes helped with laser coagulation.

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Dear Dr. Donohue: My recent head cold lasted more than a month. It's gone now and with it my sense of taste. The sense of taste has been gone so long that I am worried. Is there a chance it is gone for good?

Food flavor is a mixture of smells and tastes. That means that both the nasal smell cells and the tongue tasting cells are involved.

Given your prolonged head cold, it's probably the smell that's missing. Take a test. Can you taste the sweetness of coffee with sugar or the saltiness of a pretzel? …

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