Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition that can’t be taken lightly as it may threaten your vision, well-being, and quality of life. Many in older populations become diagnosed with AMD, and it’s easily the common cause of vision loss in those over the age of 50.
Becoming familiar with the different types of macular degeneration, symptoms, and preventative measures one can take is a necessity. Here at Art of Optiks, our talented doctors are skilled in treating patients with AMD. If you’ve recently been diagnosed or learned of a family member who has, it’s encouraged to immediately schedule an ocular disease management appointment.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of AMD, characterized by the central area of the retina or macula deteriorating over time. The macula is responsible for focused vision, and those that suffer from AMD have trouble with fine details, facial recognition, reading, driving, watching television, computer use, and more.
- Dry Macular Degeneration: In most cases, dry macular degeneration affects both eyes and progresses over the years. The eye’s blood vessels haven’t started leaking, and symptoms are minimal in the early stages. In the mid to late stages, vision loss is likely.
- Wet Macular Degeneration: Those diagnosed with wet macular degeneration have a more advanced form of the disease due to abnormal blood vessels growing and leaking below the center part of the retina, which is the macula. Leaking and bleeding blood vessels cause permanent vision loss, and often the severity progresses, resulting from dry macular degeneration.
Is Macular Degeneration Hereditary?
AMD typically has no clear-cut pattern of inheritance. However, those with a parent or sibling diagnosed with AMD are at an increased risk of developing the condition. If you learn someone in your family is diagnosed with AMD, you must begin making simple lifestyle changes to protect your vision and overall eye health.
Is Macular Degeneration Curable?
Unfortunately, there are no cures for AMD, but many treatments and lifestyle adjustments are known to delay the disease’s progression and have improved vision in some scenarios. Dry macular degeneration can exist for years before being detected, but incorporating antioxidant-rich foods and vitamins into your diet can help slow the progression. Those suffering from wet macular degeneration may have the opportunity to receive various medical and laser procedures that help shrink or stop abnormal blood vessel growth and prevent further leakage of unwanted fluid into the retina.
How to Prevent Macular Degeneration
Whether you’ve recently learned of a family member being diagnosed with AMD or got diagnosed during your last comprehensive eye exam, there are many steps individuals can take to adjust their lifestyles and prolong the progression of macular degeneration.
1. Eliminate Smoking From Your Life
Whether you smoke or live with an individual that does, the likelihood of developing AMD is significantly reduced by eliminating smoking from your life. Smoking increases the risk of developing AMD due to harmful chemicals entering your body. Chemical containing smoke is inhaled and absorbed through your lungs. As a result, some oxidants travel through your bloodstream and can cause damage to your retina.
2. Incorporate Exercise
Physical fitness is an important component of any healthy lifestyle as it helps keep your body in shape and ensures everything is functioning optimally. Obesity and sedentary lifestyles directly contribute to developing AMD, meaning maintaining a healthy weight, and being active can reduce your risk. There are many activities individuals can incorporate into their daily routines to uphold an active lifestyle, such as:
- Jumping Rope
- Strength Training
- And More
3. Monitor Your Blood Pressure
Your eyes contain numerous tiny blood vessels, meaning high blood pressure can negatively impact your eyes’ overall health. Individuals need to regularly monitor blood pressure levels, especially if they have a history of high blood pressure. Your eye doctor can check your blood pressure during your comprehensive eye exam and provide suggestions about how you can reduce high blood pressure, whether through diet changes, exercise, or calming practices like meditation.
4. Rework Your Diet
Adapting to a diet rich in antioxidants has been reported to help protect at-risk individuals from developing AMD. Antioxidants can be found in an assortment of foods, whether vegetables, fruits, or meats. It’s encouraged to avoid sugar and processed foods as best you can, and becoming familiar with antioxidant-rich items will make reworking your diet simple.
- Egg Yolks
- Brussels Sprouts
- Citrus Fruits
- Green Peppers
- Nut Oils
- Sweet Potatoes
- Whole Grains
5. UV and Blue Light Protection
UV ray and blue light exposure happen more frequently than many may think, thus making adequate protection a necessity. Long-term exposure to sunlight and blue light from digital devices have been linked to AMD development. It’s encouraged to wear your sunglasses while spending any prolonged time outside and invest in blue light blocking glasses. Blue light blocking glasses can be worn whenever you are viewing a digital device or using a computer for an extended period.
6. Take Vitamins
Incorporating vitamins into your daily regimen, whether through supplements or nutrient-rich food items, is essential for a healthy lifestyle, especially if you’ve recently been diagnosed with dry macular degeneration. While there is no cure for dry macular degeneration in its advanced stages, it has been proven that added vitamins and antioxidants can delay vision loss and prevent early progression. Some vitamins that you should work into your everyday diet include, but are not limited to:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Your Eye Health Matters
Suppose you’ve discovered that you’re at risk for developing AMD. In that case, it’s encouraged to schedule yearly comprehensive eye exams so your eye doctor can screen for early signs, recommend treatment if detected, and provide suggestions on how you can prevent early progression. Investing time into understanding what AMD is and taking steps to lower your chances is the first step to reducing the likelihood of experiencing its effects first-hand. The team at Art of Optiks understands how life-changing being diagnosed with AMD can be, but we’re here to help you every step of the way.