Hormone replacement therapy may lower degenerative eye disease risk in postmenopausal women

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50 percent less likely to develop blinding disease, research finds

ARM is a degenerative eye disease that affects the macula, which is responsible for central vision, which is necessary for reading, driving and recognizing people’s faces. Advanced ARM is the leading cause of irreversible blindness among elderly individuals worldwide. Approximately 1.7 million people have decreased vision due to ARM, and 200,000 people develop advanced ARM with visual loss each year. A study published in the December 2002 issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology showed that postmenopausal hormone therapy may reduce the risk of having advanced ARM among women with signs of maculopathy. “Decisions regarding postmenopausal hormone therapies are becoming increasingly complex, and it is important to evaluate their effects, including testing their relationship to eye diseases of aging,” said lead author Johanna M. Seddon, director of the Epidemiology Unit at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.