SARASOTA, Fla., April 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The Macular Degeneration Association (MDA), a nonprofit dedicated to fighting the leading cause of legal blindness in older Americans, is adding a new dimension to its national free seminar series: personalized medicine. MDA's 2016 seminars, entitled "Preserve Your Sight!," last approximately three hours each and feature nationally recognized ophthalmologists, researchers and other experts on topics related to both wet and dry macular degeneration.
"2016 is proving to be a pivotal year for personalized medicine, and genetic testing is an affordable and painless way for patients and their doctors to better understand the risks of acquiring macular degeneration," says MDA founder and chairman Lawrence Hoffheimer, a retired healthcare attorney and federal prosecutor whose mother suffered from the disease. "It can also help patients with intermediate dry macular degeneration determine if the zinc component of the popular AREDS formula might actually be doing more harm than good."
The MDA issued an urgent warning earlier this year about zinc after a review of National Eye Institute data by Dr. Rafal Kustra of the University of Toronto, which was independently reviewed by Dr. Bernard Rosner, Professor of Medicine in the Department of Biostatistics at Harvard Medical School's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, suggested that zinc can be harmful in patients with a certain genetic profile. Dr. Rosner's review suggests that all of the AREDS genetic data as published demonstrates a detrimental effect in at least 13 percent of patients with AMD.
Carl Awh, MD, a retina specialist from Nashville, Tenn., says, "The AREDS supplement was beneficial for most patients, but almost 15% did worse with treatment than with placebo. This adverse outcome appears to be due to the high-dose zinc component of the AREDS formulation. More research is indicated but, in the meantime, I perform genetic testing to select the optimal nutritional supplement for each patient."
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, however, has not embraced routine genetic testing and considers the test to be "under evaluation." (Ophthalmology Times, February, 2016 http://ophthalmologytimes.modernmedicine.com/ophthalmologytimes/news/aaos-preferred-practice-patterns-amd)
MDA's 2016 seminar series includes Colorado Springs, Colo., Tucson and Scottsdale, Ariz., Overland Park, Kan., Boston, Mass., Skokie, Ill., Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., Nashville, Tenn., Princeton, N.J., New York, N.Y., Asheville, N.C., Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Ga., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and Austin, Texas. For complete seminar details, visit http://macularhope.org/events/.
Contact: Lawrence Hoffheimer, Chairman
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SOURCE Macular Degeneration Association