Eye Health: The $40 Billion Baby Boom Problem

New Treatments and Prevention of Vision Loss Is Focus of 'Eye To Eye' Series Airing on Public Television Stations

WASHINGTON, May 19 -- Failing eyesight is the leading reason for loss of independent living among older Americans, surpassing Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis and other chronic health conditions, according to the Alliance for Aging Research.

"Eye To Eye," a two-part documentary series produced for public television stations, examines new treatment and prevention options for four chronic eye conditions. Age related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy are covered in the context of real clinical trial patients. Highlights of the broadcast include the latest results from a prosthetic eye chip study conducted by researchers at The Doheny Retina Institute. The Institute is an internationally recognized center for clinical vision research and advanced patient care in Los Angeles. The initial results of their groundbreaking, FDA-approved feasibility trial of an intraocular retinal prosthesis indicate some restoration of sight to the blind. The microelectronic retinal prosthesis practically substitutes for damaged retinal cells in people suffering from such blinding diseases as retinitis pigmentosa and AMD.

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss among Americans over age 65. According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), AMD plus other chronic eye conditions represent $30 to $40 billion in direct and indirect societal and productivity costs each year. A number of clinical and epidemiological studies document the effectiveness of the antioxidant lutein for deterring AMD's onset or progression. Lutein is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. It is increasingly recognized as a key in maintaining the health of the macula, an area in the back of the eye's retina. Macular damage from sunlight and other environmental factors generally results in the onset of AMD. "Eye To Eye" documents an NEI researcher who describes a pilot study examining how well lutein is absorbed into the blood stream in people over age 60.

Robert Abel Jr., M.D., is a renowned ophthalmologist and nutrition supplement author featured in "Eye To Eye." He co-founded the alternative medicine curriculum at Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Abel explains the reasons behind the growing use of nutritional supplements containing FloraGLO Lutein, a patented form of purified crystalline lutein, for prevention of AMD.

Chicago-based Carlson Laboratories and other leading vitamin and supplement producers are incorporating FloraGLO Lutein into formulations specifically created for long-term eye health maintenance and eye disease prevention.

Created by the American Medical Association award-winning CRW Medical Productions team, "Eye To Eye" explains the causes and therapies for cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and AMD. These diseases threaten the mobility and livelihoods of the baby boom generation as they grey and progress into the "senior boom." By 2020, the over-65 population is expected to more than double from 34 million today to 78 million, reports the Alliance for Aging Research.

The expanding schedule of public television stations airing "Eye To Eye" may be found at www.survivingandwinning.com/Eye/tv/tvsched.asp .

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