Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The Harmful Effects of Macular Degeneration.

May 7, 2024


The destruction of the macula.

The danger of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the gradual destruction of the macula, a part of the eye that helps us see fine details. When it’s damaged, it can cause blurry or distorted vision. After a certain point, it becomes difficult and perhaps impossible to read, write, drive, or recognize faces. The damage this disease causes is permanent.

Symptoms and risk factors.

Symptoms begin as blurry or distorted vision, and then dark spots in your central vision, or a loss of clear color vision. These symptoms may start small and worsen over time.

As the name suggests, AMD usually affects older people, typically those over 50. But it can happen earlier, especially if other risk factors are involved. Risk factors include age, race (mostly white), family history, smoking, high blood pressure, and poor diet. While we can’t control age, race, or family history, we can manage other risk factors, such as quitting smoking, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and keeping blood pressure in check.

Protect eyes from AMD

Wet and Dry AMD – the differences.

Dry AMD occurs when the macula begins to thin and gradually weaken. Drusen (a fatty substance) builds up in the macula and reduces the ability to see details. Most AMD is dry AMD, which is the least harmful form of the disease because it progresses more slowly, but it can eventually become wet AMD.

Wet AMD is more serious because new blood vessels are growing under the macula in an attempt to improve blood flow to the retina. The blood vessels are weak and they leak fluid and blood, leave scars on the macula, and cause vision loss more quickly.

The progression of AMD can vary between individuals and even between the eyes of the same person. AMD can affect one eye more severely than the other in some cases. It’s common for both eyes to be affected, but potentially at different rates.

No cure, but progress can be slowed.

There is no surgical procedure to correct or cure AMD. However, treatments are available for the wet form of the disease that can help slow down its progression and sometimes even improve vision. These treatments typically involve injections into the eye to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels.

While special eyeglass lenses can’t correct AMD itself, they can sometimes help improve vision for people with the disease. For example, low vision aids such as magnifying lenses and specially designed lamps can assist with tasks like reading. Telescopic lenses can help people see distant objects more clearly. These aids don’t fix the underlying problem but can make daily activities easier for people with AMD. It’s essential to work closely with an eye care professional at Van’s Eyecare to find the most suitable aids for individual needs.

Eye Exam

Get an early as possible start on slowing down the AMD.

Regular eye exams are crucial because AMD often starts without noticeable symptoms. Doctor Van Amerongen can detect early signs of AMD during a comprehensive eye exam, allowing for early intervention. The goal is to slow down AMD’s progression and preserve vision for as long as possible.

Early detection can make a big difference in managing the condition effectively. It is especially motivating to stay healthy in order to forestall old-age vision loss.

If you have AMD.

If you have AMD, you can slow its progression by eating a healthy diet, taking specific vitamins and minerals recommended by Doctor Van, protecting your eyes from harmful UV light, and quitting smoking.

Annual eye exams and early diagnosis of AMD will help one learn to manage factors like smoking, diet, exercise, and sunlight exposure that influence the development and progression of AMD. To postpone vision loss as long as possible can be an excellent motive to develop healthy habits and eliminate bad ones. Exploring the importance of a healthy lifestyle and adopting habits that support eye health can help one learn to manage AMD.

Best Foods for healthy eyes. Concept. View from above

Here are the lifestyle and dietary choices that significantly impact the progression of AMD:

  1. Smoking is a significant risk factor for AMD and can accelerate its progression. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of severe vision loss.
  2. A diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can support eye health and potentially slow the progression of AMD. Foods high in antioxidants like lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins C and E, and zinc, such as leafy greens, colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, and fish, can be beneficial. Additionally, consuming omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout may also help protect against AMD.
  3. Regular physical activity can improve overall health and may have a protective effect against AMD. Exercise can help maintain a healthy weight, regulate blood pressure, and improve circulation, all of which contribute to better eye health.
  4. Protecting the eyes from harmful ultraviolet radiation by wearing sunglasses that block both UV-A and UV-B rays when outdoors can help reduce the risk of AMD progression. UV radiation can contribute to oxidative damage in the eyes, which may make AMD worse.
  5. Managing chronic conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol can decrease the progression of AMD. Managing these conditions through lifestyle modifications, medication, and regular medical care can help reduce the risk of complications from AMD.

Overall, adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes eating a balanced diet, doing regular exercise, stopping smoking, and using sun protection can slow down the progression of AMD and help maintain good eye health.

Be sure to call Van’s Eyecare today to schedule your next regular eye exam with Loveland’s eye doctor, Kenneth Van Amerongen, Optometrist.