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by Abigail Van Buren

Sight Loss in Seniors Caused by Disease Nobody Knows

DEAR ABBY: In your column of July 5, you responded to a writer struggling with accommodating her widowed, elderly father who suffers from the eye condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and therefore has trouble reading small print. On behalf of the AMD Alliance International, thank you for printing that letter. Just seven years ago I was diagnosed with AMD, and I now chair the AMD Alliance.

AMD is an eye condition that causes loss of central vision and is the leading cause of legal blindness to individuals over the age of 50 in the Western world. Approximately 25 million to 30 million people are affected worldwide by some form of AMD, but awareness and understanding are still very low. In a recent international survey commissioned by us in May 1999, only 2 percent of adults surveyed think AMD is the leading cause of severe sight loss among adults 50 and older.

While there is currently no cure for AMD, there are ways for those diagnosed with it to gain hope and maintain independent lifestyles through treatment and rehabilitation options, low-vision aids and support services.

Early detection is the key to making the greatest possible impact, so please encourage regular eye exams.

Abby, thank you for sharing this message of hope for others like me who must now learn to adjust to a new way of daily living. -- DR. BOB THOMPSON, CHAIRMAN, AMD ALLIANCE INTERNATIONAL

DEAR DR. THOMPSON: After reading your letter, I'm sure many people will be interested in learning more about age-related macular degeneration. I first learned about this eye condition when it affected my trusted secretary of many years, Sylvia Singer.

Readers, the AMD Alliance International is a nonprofit alliance of vision and seniors organizations. For more information about AMD, early detection and global resources, visit the Web site at www.amdalliance.org. You can also use the toll-free hotline: (877) 263-7171.

DEAR ABBY: Get a load of this pre-wedding announcement. It was delivered via my mailbox at work. I thought I had seen it all, but this takes the cake. With a former co-worker like this, I'm happy I didn't win their lottery.

If you print this, please delete all names and addresses. I still work with friends of this couple. -- HAPPY TO LOSE THE LOTTERY

DEAR HAPPY: Your enclosure is a first, and I must admit I have never seen anything quite like it. Read on:

"Dear Friends of 'Elmer' and 'Gladys': Our wedding will be a small but poignant affair held at a log home in the woods in beautiful southern Wisconsin. Due to the physical nature of the wedding area, there will not be enough space for all the friends and relatives we would dearly love to invite.

"After pondering a number of alternatives, we decided that a lottery would be the most equitable manner of dealing with the space/disappointment problem. We have, indeed, already held this lottery with your name included, but alas, it is our sad duty to inform you that your name does not appear on the winners list. Nevertheless, our good wishes go out to you, and when our gift from you arrives at the address below, we will thank you in absentia.

"With regrets and respect, ELMER SMITH AND GLADYS JONES"

READERS: Care to comment?

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