Can Macular Degeneration Be Reversed? 2
Reversing Macular Degeneration
Falling ill is never an enjoyable experience. However, we are typically able to use the knowledge that in time we will recover to push ourselves through the worst phases of an illness. Knowing that better days are just hours away helps us to maintain hope. In the case of an irreversible illness it becomes far more difficult to maintain a positive outlook. We can wish for a reduction in symptoms or even a cure, but we are never sure that they will arrive.
Macular degeneration is a disease in which the macula and retina are damaged, often resulting in vision loss. In fact, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among elderly Western populations. With the speed at which macular degeneration progresses and the widespread occurrence of the disease, a macular degeneration diagnosis may make one feel like vision loss is inevitable. Luckily, more recent research is showing that changes in diet can do wonders to guard against, slow the progression of, and possibly even reverse some of the symptoms of macular degeneration.
Intake of Vitamins, Minerals, and Phytochemicals
A research study conducted by the National Eye Institute found that supplementation of key nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and copper helped to slow both vision loss and the progression of intermediate macular degeneration. Additional research took this a step further, looking at the effects of a category of phytochemicals called carotenoids.
Apparently there is a bit of truth to the old adage that eating carrots is beneficial for one’s eyes. Carotenoids are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers their bright orange, yellow, and red hues. Types of carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene, play a critical role in maintaining eye health. These carotenoids aid in guarding against vision loss while also improving one’s ability to see colors and fine detail. Additionally, they also play a role in protecting our eyes against the damaging effects of the UV light we encounter outdoors as well as the blue light that emanates from our laptops, phones and other digital devices.
Additional Nutrients to Aid in Eye Health
While adequate intake of the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals mentioned above is critical for eye health, there exist a few additional compounds that also show promise. Taurine is an organic acid found in its highest concentration in meats. Within the body, a high concentration of taurine is found in the retina’s photoreceptor cells and is thought to protect the eye from UV damage.
Omega 3 fatty acids - most often found in fatty fish - also play a role in eye health. Omega 3 fatty acids help to reduce systemic inflammation and may be able to reduce intraocular pressure.
A proper diet, rich in key nutrients, can do wonders to improve wellbeing and guard against disease. The vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and additional compounds mentioned are particularly beneficial for eye health. However, these nutrients are not just for those who are concerned over their vision; they are a great addition to any balanced nutrition plan. Do you currently take a supplement to help get the above recommendations? We’d love to hear about it!
Dr. Jenna Zigler
- Dr. Jenna Zigler
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How Does Macular Degeneration Lead to Blindness? 0
- Dr. Jenna Zigler
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Tools for Living in Later Stages of Macular Degeneration 0
Later Stages of Macular Degeneration
Later stages of macular degeneration are associated with central vision loss, which may mean eventual legal blindness. Eyesight generally continues to worsen and makes performing daily tasks very difficult. As a result, living with the condition may prove challenging, if not frustrating, for many. Fortunately, there are several coping mechanisms to aid people in the process.
People who use prescription eyewear should get their eyeglasses checked regularly to make sure their prescription is suitable for them. Magnifiers, also referred to as telescopic lenses in some cases, are a way to enhance reading and similar work that requires close-up vision. Examples include adding telescopic lenses to prescription glasses, and using hand-held magnifying glasses.
A great way to cope with vision loss is to take advantage of modern day technology and use advanced tools. People can change computer interfaces by adjusting font size, altering contrast, increasing volume, and adding speech-input systems. Closed-circuit TV (CCTV) setups that project magnified images on a larger screen with a video camera are readily available.
Those who enjoy reading can find books, tablets, and cellphones with large print. Some electronic devices have options specifically for people with low vision. A number of them also employ voice recognition systems that can make life so much easier for those who are undergoing vision loss.
Day to day modifications
Improving the power of home and office lights may facilitate the completion of daily activities while reducing the chance of accidents. Finding a shuttle or public transport is a convenient option for those who find it hard to see well while driving. The support of family or friends is favorable for completing everyday tasks in most scenarios.
Taking vitamin supplements
Particularly for people in the moderate stages of macular degeneration, using a powerful mixture of supplements may assist in limiting the rate of vision loss. High amounts of antioxidant vitamins and minerals are known to fight against the damaging effects of oxidation and inflammation in the retina. While these nutrients can also be found in everyday food, a supplement is a convenient and regulated way of getting an abundant supply.
A standard supplement regimen is composed of a combination of various ingredients, researched in the AREDS and AREDS2 studies. Vitamins C and E as well as small doses of lutein and zeaxanthin are reliable antioxidants. The addition of minimal amounts of zinc and copper further help to limit the degeneration of macular cells. Vitamin supplementation is especially beneficial for cases of wet macular degeneration. Care should be taken to consult medical professionals before starting these, but evidence shows that progression of the disease can be decreased with consistent use. Have you tried any of the above suggestions?
Dr. Jenna Zigler
- Dr. Jenna Zigler
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Low Vision Aids to Help with Late Stage Macular Degeneration 0
Macular degeneration currently has no medical treatment that reverses its effects, but there are ways you can slow it down during the early stages. For those for whom the disease has progressed into a later stage and who are dealing with low vision, there are some devices that can amplify remaining vision.
All of the devices used now are based on some form of magnification. Since the central field of vision is lost with macular degeneration, magnification extends images outward from that lost central vision, making it possible to see more of what is in front than would be possible without these aids. The problem comes from each device being made for specific tasks. Reading, driving, and watching television all require a different type of magnification.
How a specialist helps
One of the first things a specialist will do is find out the most important needs of the patient. A researcher who seldom ventures away from home or who doesn’t drive would be more focused on aids to make reading and computer work easier. An adventurer, who only reads to figure out how to get from point A to point B would look for another type of device.
Next, the eye doctor will determine how much vision has been lost already. And finally, they will design a device for the person with low vision creating the right amount of magnification for the most necessary tasks to aid the person with low vision.
Types of devices
Telescopic low vision devices help with distances – near and far aids are made specifically for the wearer. These could be made to help one or both eyes depending on the needs of the patient and can help with identifying faces and facial expressions, reading, walking, playing cards, and watching television.
E-Scoop low vision glasses are considered a simplified version of telescopic low vision devices, though the E-Scoop glasses are actually very sophisticated and enhance vision significantly. They transfer images as they hit the eye to the healthy area(s) of the macula. Using these glasses, some have been able to pass their DMV driving test without problems. Others with more severe vision loss may require a telescope to pass their test and drive safely.
Microscopic low vision magnifiers make everything bigger, especially print for reading. The amount of magnification depends on the needs of the patient, and the magnifying portion of a lens is combined with the patient’s prescription lenses. They can be used for either one or both eyes. These are the best resort for patients who have run out of other options.
For those who have approximately the same amount of remaining vision in both eyes, prismatic low-vision readers afford a higher amount of magnification than can usually be found in reading glasses. A specialty eyewear lab is required to make these because most do not have the equipment to make them.
In 2010 the FDA approved another device known as the implantable miniature telescope (IMT) for those with end-stage age-related macular degeneration. This implant helps visual acuity by reducing the central “blind spot” of the patient. The implant is a telescope that is about the size of a pea. The procedure is surgical, and the natural lens is removed and replaced with the IMT in the eye capsule. After surgery, as light enters the eye, images are enlarged at three times magnification. This does not repair the damage already done; it’s purpose is to enlarge the remaining field of vision.
Have you tried any magnifiers to improve your vision? Let us know what worked best for you!
Dr. Travis Zigler
- Dr. Travis Zigler
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