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Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD for short, is the leading cause of vision loss in people aged 50 and older, and estimates suggest that more than 10 million Americans are currently affected by the disease, making it more common than glaucoma and cataracts combined. It occurs when part of the very back of the eye, called the macula, starts to deteriorate. The macula is responsible for helping us to see fine details in our central vision. This means that while the patient’s peripheral vision remains intact, everyday tasks like reading, watching tv, driving, and even recognizing people can become increasingly more difficult.
While there are two types of AMD, the variety known as ‘dry’ AMD accounts for as many as 90% of cases. Unfortunately, this type develops very slowly and gradually and can remain undetected for a fairly long time. Any vision lost is also permanent.
Studies show that there are some risk factors that make someone more likely to experience macular degeneration. This means that there are also things that you can do to potentially reduce your risk of developing the condition. Here are our tips on the top ways to prevent macular degeneration and preserve your long-term vision.
Most people know that smoking is bad news for their health. However, few people consider the impact that it could have on their eyes and vision. Research has found that smoking reduces the effectiveness of antioxidants and may deplete the levels of lutein in the macula, and this could increase the likelihood of AMD developing. Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, thereby also limiting the amount of oxygen that will reach the eyes to keep them healthy.
Unfortunately, people who are overweight are more likely to suffer from health problems, including issues with their eyes and vision and high blood pressure. Poor circulation due to high blood pressure then restricts blood flow to the eyes, increasing the risk of macular degeneration. Maintaining a healthy weight is better for your overall health and your eyesight.
If you have an immediate family member with a history of macular degeneration, it could significantly increase the likelihood of you developing it too. This means that you should remain vigilant and aware of the early signs of the condition, which including seeing straight lines as wavy, difficulty adapting to low lighting levels, and problems with reading or recognizing faces.
We are what we eat – at least to an extent. A healthy, balanced diet will help to keep our body systems functioning optimally, including our vision. There are certain foods that are particularly beneficial in helping to prevent macular degeneration, including leafy greens like spinach, kale, and chard. These contain lots of antioxidants that help to protect against cellular damage to the macula which can contribute to eye diseases like macular degeneration.
The sun emits harmful UV radiation which can have a number of consequences for our eyes and vision. One of these is retinal damage. Research suggests that UV exposure can be responsible for an increased risk of many different eye diseases including cataracts, glaucoma, and of course, macular degeneration. Wearing sunglasses at all times outside is recommended, even on overcast days. However, for this to be effective, the sunglasses must be proven to block out at least 95% of harmful UV rays – a sticker or label on the glasses should make this clear.
To learn more tips on preventing macular degeneration, contact Primary Eye Care in Tupelo, MS at (662) 200-9842 to book a comprehensive eye exam.