The briefing, being held during International AMD Awareness Week 2011 and co-sponsored by the Alliance for Aging Research, the AMD Alliance International (AMDAI), Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), European Vision Institute (EVI), and Lighthouse International, features National Eye Institute (NEI) Deputy Clinical Director Emily Chew, M.D. Dr. Chew serves as the Study Chair of AREDS2, the second phase of NEI’s Age-related Eye Disease Study. In the initial phase of AREDS, NEI found that high levels of dietary antioxidants and zinc reduced progression to the advanced form of the disease by 25 percent. In the study’s second phase, NEI is investigating the use of lutein/zeaxanthin (found in leafy greens such as kale) and and/or omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in fish) to further reduce disease progression.
“At this annual event, AEVR educates Capitol Hill about the groundbreaking research into AMD funded by the NEI within the National Institutes of Health (NIH),” said AEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky in announcing the event. “This year, Dr. Chew will focus on research into the risk factors associated with the disease, such as diet, obesity, smoking, race, family history, and gender, and discuss lifestyle changes that may reduce this risk.” Jorkasky noted that there has been so much momentum into AMD research that, in 2010 testimony before Congress, NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. commented that, “Twenty years ago, we could do little to prevent or treat this disorder. Today, because of new treatments and procedures based in part on NIH research, 1.3 million Americans at risk for severe vision loss over the next five years can receive potentially sight-saving therapies.’’
The AMD Alliance International estimated in 2010 that 33 million people worldwide experience vision impairment from AMD at a direct healthcare cost of $255 billion. AMD is the leading cause of blindness and low vision in the United States and the developed world. Since AMD affects central vision, specifically the macula in the light-sensitive back of the eye called the retina, it severely alters a person’s ability to read and drive, impacting productivity, independence, and quality of life and adding greatly to cost burden. NEI estimates that 200,000 Americans each year go on to develop advanced AMD, with this number expected to double by 2020.
The Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR), a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation, is proud to announce this program associated with its Decade of Vision 2010-2020 Initiative, a sustained educational effort acknowledged by Congress that recognizes the benefits of federally funded vision research. Visit its Web site at www.eyeresearch.org