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New Years Eat fewer sweets. Watch less television. Quit smoking-the New Year's Resolutions people choose often require subtracting something from their routine.

We encourage you to add something to your list of resolutions in 2007: schedule an eye exam for yourself and your family. Regular, comprehensive eye exams ensure that patients can see clearly and comfortably, but the exam is also a tool in assuring that no adverse vision conditions are present.

We want to emphasize the importance of regular care in the case of age-related macular degeneration, AMD. No symptom or pain is present in the progression of this disease, and vision loss is gradual. By the time a patient learns he or she has AMD, the vision lost cannot be restored.

When a vision condition is found, early detection provides the best opportunity for treating, and in some cases, slowing the progression of the disease.

AMD, the leading cause of blindness in the United States, is caused by deterioration of certain cells in the macula, a portion of the retina located at the back of the eye that is responsible for clear sharp vision. AMD is high among Caucasians ages 65 to 74 (11 percent); women tend to get the disease more than men. It is uncertain what causes AMD, but it may be attributed to a lack of certain vitamins and minerals to the retina; circulation breakdown to the retina; excessive levels of cholesterol or sugar in the diet; hypertension; excessive exposure to ultraviolet light; and heredity.

Certain deep green and dark yellow or orange fruits and vegetables, such as spinach, cantaloupe, mango, acorn or butternut squash and sweet potatoes may help prevent or slow the progression of AMD.

Adults between the ages of 18-40 should have an eye exam every two to three years; every two years for adults 41-60; and annually for adults over age 60, recommends the American Optometric Association.

Because we rely on our vision for so many things, eye health is too important to overlook. Adding an eye exam to your regular health care regimen is one resolution that's easy to accomplish.