February 5, 1994
Media Contact:Marc Kusinitz
Phone: (410) 955-8665

Researchers at The Johns Hopkins hospital are looking for volunteers for a study of the possible protective role of vitamins and minerals in slowing the progress of two potentially blinding eye diseases, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract. The study at the Wilmer Eye Institute is part of a program called Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), funded by the National Eye Institute. Hopkins is one of 11 centers in the United States conducting this study.

AMD is a disorder of the central part of the retina, called the macula, at which perception is most acute. Destruction of the macula results in blind spots in the individual's central field of vision. Cataracts are marked by a clouding of the lens, the transparent part of the eyeball that admits and focuses light on the retina.

"Macular degeneration is the leading cause of visual loss in adults over age 60," says Susan B. Bressler, M.D., a Wilmer ophthalmologist and director of the Hopkins AREDS center. "We are looking for people age 55 to 78, who have fairly normal vision, but have been told they are at risk for developing AMD. We are also looking for those who think they have early AMD or a condition called drusen--small deposits on the retina caused by breakdown of part of that tissue. People who think they have AMD and have already lost sight in one eye, can also volunteer," she adds.

AREDS participants will get eye examinations every six months for at least seven years, because the diseases can take years to develop. The findings will be forwarded to their personal eye doctors, who will provide any care the individual needs. The researchers are especially eager to recruit members of minority groups, which have often been underrepresented in medical studies of new treatments for diseases.

People who wish to volunteer for the study should call the Clinic Coordinator at (410) 955-2408.

(For press inquiries only, call me at (410) 955-8665.)

-- JHMI --
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