Drug may prevent macular degeneration

More than 11 million people in the U.S. suffer from age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, according to the Bright-Focus Foundation.

Now, a team of researchers believes levodopa can delay onset of both “dry” and “wet” forms of the disease, or even prevent it from happening at all.

University of Arizona researcher Brian McKay’s team analyzed health records of 87 million patients, tracking their response to Levodopa, a Parkinson’s disease drug.
“We both reduce the risk of ever developing the disease and so the incidence was lower and also showed that if you were taking L-dopa for a movement disorder, you developed AMD much later.” Brian S. McKay, PhD, Director of Basic Research, SW Center for Age-Related Eye Diseases, Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science at the University of Arizona explained.
If they did, onset was delayed by nine years. We make Levodopa in tissue pigment. It helps keep our eye’s macula healthy. Professor McKay says taking Levodopa pills keeps the pigmentation pathway active, protecting people from AMD.

Fair haired, fair skinned people with light colored eyes have less pigment and are more affected by AMD.

Fourteen percent of Caucasians over the age of 80 have it, compared to less than four percent of African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities.

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