AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a naturally occurring deterioration of retina inside the eye, most common in adults over the age of 50. The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina, located near the center of the eye, responsible for sharp, central vision of items located directly in front of us.
Although the symptoms of AMD are often subdued and ignored through the early stages, an ongoing undiagnosed condition of age-related macular degeneration can lead to progressive degradation of basic central vision.
The presence of AMD may negatively affect day to day activity by clouding facial recognition, blurring vision while driving, creating difficulty in reading or writing, and hindering any other detailed vision process.
The Two Types of AMD
- Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration – The insidious nature of this type of AMD will eventually wear the macula to a point of total vision loss. A very gradual deterioration of specialized retinal cells may lead patients to advanced stages before diagnosis. While this type of AMD can also be categorized into early or intermediate stages, the best practice for preventing irreversible effects is regularly scheduled exams with an optometrist.
- Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration – Due to its proximity to blood vessels within the retina, the macula may be influenced by irregular growth or rupture of these vessels. A sudden increase in size or numbers of vessels surrounding the macula will most likely result in damage to the area, potentially causing irreversible harm. Sudden, unexpected, or accelerated changes in vision could be the onset of wet AMD and should be consulted with an optometrist immediately.
How to Avoid Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- While AMD is sometimes unavoidable in certain patients, there are several lifestyle practices that can reduce the likelihood of experiencing the condition and mitigate its effects:
- Avoid Smoking – research has shown that smoking cigarettes can double the chances of developing AMD
Regular Exercise – an active lifestyle will considerably lower the risks associated with AMD
- Healthy Blood Pressure and Cholesterol levels – maintaining steady levels of blood pressure and cholesterol will help prevent AMD from developing at an earlier age
- Smart Diet – most specifically, green vegetables and fish are proven to fight some naturally occurring instances of AMD. Your optometrist may also prescribe nutritional supplements. Avoiding consumption of cigarettes and alcohol will also prevent the onset of the eye condition.
- While several factors may influence the onset of AMD, such as family history and genetics, attention to the items listed above will decrease the risks of age-related macular degeneration. Caucasians are most likely to experience AMD, with family history providing a strong influence on the probability of contracting the condition.
Consistent, regularly scheduled eye exams with an Optometrrist can identify AMD at its earliest stages and result in minimal damage to the macula.