Age Related Macular Degeneration
What is Macular Degeneration?
As a disease usually associated with aging, macular degeneration is also called age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), though there are other, less common types of macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration symptoms include a gradual loss of central vision needed to perform everyday tasks like driving or reading, and a reduced ability to see small visual details like fine print or patterns.
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans over age 60, and presents itself in two forms: dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration.
Of the two, the “dry” form is far more common. Both affect the center region of the retina, the light-sensitive area in the back of the eye responsible for processing images we see.
Age Related Macular Degeneration and Your Central Vision
Did you know that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness among adults aged 50 and above?
AMD occurs when the part of the retina responsible for your sharp central vision, the macula, begins to deteriorate. Central vision is the visual field that you rely on to focus on objects clearly, to read or to drive.
As AMD affects your macula, the condition often results in gradual central vision loss. AMD does not cause complete blindness, as those affected by the condition are able to see by relying on their peripheral or side vision.
AMD is usually diagnosed as either dry or wet. The dry form is more common than wet macular degeneration. In dry AMD, light-sensitive cells in the macula gradually break down and slowly begin to blur central vision in the affected eye. Over time, central vision in the affected eye can be slowly lost as the macula begins to further deteriorate.
In its wet form, macular degeneration can lead to more severe vision loss, as the more advanced stage of the disease causes new blood vessels to grow beneath the retina. These new blood vessels are delicate and can leak blood and fluid, causing damage and scarring of the retina, leading to further vision loss.
The early and intermediate stages of AMD usually occur without symptoms. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD. The eye exam includes a visual acuity test that measures how well you see, a dilated eye exam and the use of an Amsler grid.
An Amsler grid consists of a grid of straight lines with a central focus point in the center. Someone with AMD may see the central area darkened or will report that the lines are wavy. This is a very effective and easy way for you and your eye practitioner to monitor changes in your central vision.
Aside from age, other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing AMD include smoking, high blood pressure, UV exposure and family history of the disease.
It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes quitting smoking, exercising regularly and maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Eating a diet rich in colorful vegetables and fish can boost the vitamins that naturally protect the eyes from AMD. We may recommend vitamin and mineral supplements based on your risk factors and level of developing macular degeneration.
Early detection of AMD is the best way to control the condition and reduce damage to your eyesight. That's just one of the reasons why it's so important to get a comprehensive eye exam from an eye care professional at least once a year.
Discovering what vitamins or supplements you may need on your own may not actually your individual needs, but there are a few well-known supplements and healthy superfoods that generally reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
Ultimately, discussing what you should take is best discussed with your local eye care professional who can narrow down the options for your specific visual needs.
As with any nutritional advice, staying ahead via prevention is key. Keep a close watch on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They are very easy to review on a regular basis and are a basic guide regarding your overall health.
- Foods like dark, leafy green vegetables, fish or fish oil, and a daily intake of fruits & nuts
- Increase the intake of lutein and zeaxanthin. There are studies that suggest these carotenoids play a part in reducing the risk of macular degeneration.
- Some suggest increasing the intake of antioxidants
- Multivitamin or multimineral supplements.
- For those diagnosed with macular degeneration or show early signs, your eye doctor will likely recommend a formulation called AREDS or a similar supplement package that’s specific to macular health. Some include:
- I-Caps AREDS 2 (Alcon)
- PreserVision AREDS 2 (Bausch + Lomb)
- Eyepex Macula (Eyepex Formulas)
- MacularProtect Complete AREDS2 (ScienceBased Health).
- Avoid refined carbohydrates & sugars
Macular Degeneration Statistics
Currently, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in persons over age 60. Caucasians are far more likely to lose vision from ARMD than African Americans, and studies show that obesity, smoking, and exposure to UV rays may also be risk factors for developing the disease.
Macular degeneration tends to affect women more than men, and has also been linked to heredity. Nearly 90% of all diagnosed ARMD is the dry form.
Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the EyeGlass Guide today!