Macular Degeneration – Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention
Macular Degeneration robs a person of all but the outermost peripheral vision leaving only dim images at the center of vision. AMD is the number one cause of vision loss and legal blindness in adults over age 60 in the United States. As our population ages and the baby boomers advance into their 50’s and 60’s, we will see a virtual epidemic of AMD.
The impact of developing AMD can be devastating to those who were independent and active prior to the onset of this condition. The Eye Care Center believes that it is important to do everything we can to educate our patients on how to prevent or delay the onset of macular degeneration. Many of the causes of AMD we have no control over. These causes include age, genetics, race, and gender. However, there are also risk factors that we do have control over.
Risk Factors We Can Control:
- Do not smoke – smoking is probably the biggest controllable risk factor for AMD
- Control high blood pressure and cholesterol
- Protect your eyes from UV sunlight by always wearing UV blocking sunglasses outdoors
- Eating a diet rich in dark green, leafy vegetables (contains lutein, a powerful eye antioxidant)
Research has shown that antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E), zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and essential fatty acids all can slow the progression of macular degeneration. Researchers and clinicians think it can aid in the prevention of macular degeneration as well. Your Eye Care Center doctor will discuss which vitamins are right for you if it is determined you could benefit from supplements.
Dry vs. Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration
Over 90% of the cases of AMD are what is known as the “dry form”. In this condition, the photoreceptors of the macula slowly break down over time causing blurring of central vision. The “wet form” of AMD is less common, but much more aggressive. In this condition, abnormal blood vessels behind the macula start to leak blood or fluid. Loss of central vision can happen rather quickly. There are effective treatments for wet AMD, but early detection is critical.