Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD for short, is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss across the world. In fact, in America nearly 8.4 million 40+ year olds have macular degeneration. Here’s what you need to know about this debilitating condition:
What It Is
AMD is caused by the deterioration of the macula, the central part of the retina in the back of the eye. The macula is made up of a dense concentration of photoreceptors that detect light and send our brain signals to transcribe the information as images. It is responsible for the majority of our color vision and determining fine details in our vision as well. Macular degeneration causes vision loss in the central region of one’s retina, leaving us with only peripheral vision.
There are two types of macular degeneration — wet and dry. Wet macular degeneration makes up about 10% of all AMD cases. Wet AMD is caused by blood vessels growing under the retina and leaking blood or fluid in this region. This leaking fluid causes permanent damage to your photoreceptor cells; however, wet macular degeneration is treatable if caught early. This is a great example of why it is vital to see your Optometrist annually. Dry macular degeneration currently has no treatment; however, regular exercise and a healthy diet full of antioxidants such as spinach and kale can slow down the progression of dry AMD.
Worried about developing AMD? We’ve broken down which symptoms to look out for:
- Difficulty reading or making out letters and words
- Fuzzy, distorted vision as if a frosted lens is placed in front of your eyes
- Dim or dark areas in the center of your field of vision
- Having a difficult time clearly seeing other people’s faces
Are You At Risk
While some risk factors for macular degeneration can be curbed, some are out of your control. Risk factors you cannot stop include age, family history, gender and race. Nearly a third of adults over 80 are affected by macular generation. If you are female, your risk is higher, but this may be due to the fact that women live longer than men. Caucasians tend to have a higher likelihood of developing AMD.
Lifestyle risk factors for developing macular degeneration include smoking, UV exposure, diet, obesity and lack of exercise.
We advise our patients that have a higher risk of developing AMD to work out regularly, particularly focusing on cardio. A BMI of 30+ puts you at at least a 250% greater risk of developing macular degeneration. We also suggest quitting smoking as soon as possible. We know we don’t need to tell you this, but smoking wreaks havoc on nearly every organ of your body. Avoid high fat and high cholesterol foods. Do eat leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach. When it comes to carbs, try to consume whole wheat alternatives. Wear sunglasses when exposed to UV radiation. This includes wearing sunglasses while driving, going for a walk during the day or when at the beach. Finally, make sure you’re getting regular eye exams. They can help you avoid the detrimental effects of macular degeneration.
Worried about developing macular degeneration or haven’t seen your eye doctor in a while? Schedule an appointment with us today! https://www.neweraeyecare.com/locations.html