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Connections: Losing My Vision AND My Hair?

Eyesight and hair. How could I be losing them both at the same time? I can handle losing my hair, but losing my vision is unthinkable and can’t be fixed by simply buying a wig. Although, wouldn’t that be nice!? In the same year that I developed alopecia universalis (complete loss of hair), my early macular degeneration advanced to “wet” in my left eye. After much investigation, I suspected they were connected.

Wet macular degeneration progression

I had been diagnosed with early macular degeneration about 11 years prior and was told to take the AREDS 2 vitamins. I followed these instructions and took them twice a day without fail. When I received the diagnosis of advanced wet AMD and began the injections which hopefully would slow the progression, I started my research. Each scientific article led to another. I was online more often than not, trying to determine if there was anything, besides the injections, that could be done. Or even any new treatment on the way.

Is zinc bad for macular degeneration?

In the course of this research, I started seeing articles questioning the amount of zinc in the AREDS 2 formulation for some people.1 That it may not be the best option for everyone. I switched to a formula with less zinc, which was difficult to find at that time. Then I read about a company that tests for zinc tolerance and I sent off my swab, which showed I was one of the 15% who is zinc sensitive. I started buying the lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins, and minerals individually. My wet eye became stable after a total of 11 injections and stayed that way for almost a year. So believe it can happen!  But sadly, my latest OCT pictures showed my wet eye is no longer stable and there will be more injections, with hopes of another, longer period of stability.

Can zinc cause hair loss?

Now to the hair loss part of my story. A few months earlier, it had only taken three weeks for me to lose all my hair, even my eyelashes! Most of us don’t think about the job the eyelashes do. Outside of the appearance factor, they keep all kinds of dust and pollen out of the eyes. I tried everything, hair loss creams and foams, prescription cortisone cream, herbal supplements, and lotions. You name it, I tried it. My dermatologist told me this was very likely permanent, an autoimmune response. I knew zinc improves our immunity, it’s recommended when you’re coming down with a cold, and I had been taking well over the recommended daily dose for over 10 years. So less zinc should help the hair loss and perhaps the AMD as well, shouldn’t it?

Hair growth

Now, two years after reducing my intake of zinc, I have eyelashes. A few eyebrows grew in but then disappeared again. Hopefully, they will come back. In the meantime, semi-permanent microblading has helped me feel (and look, I hope)  normal. The hair on my scalp came in little clumps and then disappeared, but now seems to slowly be returning all over. With any luck perhaps it will stay this time.  And with any luck, this course of injections will stabilize my left eye. Stay tuned.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MacularDegeneration.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Awh CC, Lane A-M, Hawken S, Zanke B, Kim IK. CFH and ARMS2 Genetic Polymorphisms Predict Response to Antioxidants and Zinc in Patients with Age-related Macular Degeneration. Ophthalmology. 2013;120(11):2317-2323. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.07.039.

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