Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common condition in older adults and the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65. Macular degeneration affects the macula, the part of the retina responsible for the crisp, detailed vision needed for reading or driving.
Macular degeneration can be classified as either wet (neovascular) or dry (non-neovascular). Dry macular degeneration is the more common diagnosis, and is considered to be an early stage of the disease. This type of the disease usually develops when the light-sensitive cells in the macula begin to break down. Wet macular degeneration (AMD) occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These abnormal blood vessels are very weak and can often leak fluid and blood. Patients may experience anything from a blurry, gray or distorted area to a blind spot in the center of vision.
Macular degeneration doesn’t cause total blindness because it doesn’t affect the peripheral vision. Possible risk factors include genetics, age, diet, smoking and sunlight exposure. Regular comprehensive eye exams with dilation are highly recommended to detect macular degeneration early and prevent permanent vision loss. Although there is no cure for Macular Degeneration, there are nutritional and lifestyle changes that may be beneficial in improving the prognosis for the patient with Macular Degeneration.
These changes include:
- Stop smoking, as smoking has been associated with vision loss from ARMD
- A diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables which contain anti-oxidant vitamins
- Include fish and nuts that contain Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet
- Control your other diseases such as Cardiovascular and High Blood Pressure
- Maintain a healthy weight by decreasing your calories and increasing the
amount of exercising/physical activities you perform on a daily basis
- Anti-oxidant supplemental vitamins can be taken with the approval of your
- Always protect your eyes from sunlight by wearing sunglasses with UV
Symptoms of macular degeneration include:
- A gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- A gradual loss of color vision
- Distorted or blurry vision
- A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision