How to Prevent Macular Degeneration | Macular Degeneration Diet 0
How to Prevent Macular Degeneration From Getting Worse
The loss of sight induces a sense of fear that almost feels primal. When one of our most frequently used senses fails to function, we feel threatened and we are forced to acclimate by relying more heavily on our senses of hearing and touch.
Perhaps this natural association of vision loss with danger accounts for the fear that we experience when diagnosed with a condition like age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
According to AMD.org, this condition is the primary cause of severe vision loss, worsens with age, and manifests itself in one of two forms - wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration. These two forms differ in the particular manner in which they damage the retina and macula.
While the wet form affects a meager 10-15% of individuals diagnosed with macular degeneration, it is responsible for a staggering 90% of the severe vision loss associated with the condition. While these statistics are quite frightening at first, there is hope in that treatments and preventative actions may be able to slow the progression of this condition.
Macular Degeneration Diet
As is the case with most health afflictions, a proper diet can do wonders to reduce the symptoms of this condition and, according to some doctors, diet may even be able to heal wet macular degeneration in some people.
A key study conducted by the National Eye Institute - titled the long-term Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) - discovered that when supplementing a diet with a few critical nutrients, the risk of developing macular degeneration was reduced. “Let food be thy medicine” and incorporate the following research-supported foods and nutrients into an “anti-AMD” diet and eat these DAILY.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Found in dark, leafy greens; broccoli; zucchini; and eggs. Here is our Eye Love Ocular Health Formula vitamin that contains both antioxidants and more!
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna. Also take an omega-3 supplement like our Heyedrate Omega-3 for Eye Health
- Vitamin C: Found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, but especially prevalent in citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lime and lemon.
- Vitamin E: Found in fortified cereals and grains; sunflower seeds; almonds; peanuts and tofu.
- Zinc: Found in meat; fortified cereals; dried beans; whole wheat and buckwheat.
- Copper: Found in dark, leafy greens like kale, swiss chard, turnip greens and mustard greens; legumes; whole grains; nuts and seeds.
Not only will a diet rich in these foods help to protect one’s eyes, it will also contribute to an overall higher level of health and wellbeing. It is best to obtain these nutrients by eating a variety of whole foods; adding dietary supplements only when it is impossible for one to take in adequate amounts of nutrients through diet alone.
If eating the perfect diet seems daunting, make sure you check out our Heyedrate Omega-3 for Eye Health (good for more than just dry eye!) and Eye Love Ocular Health Formula (our version of the AREDS2 research)!
At first one may feel a bit intimidated by the prospect of completely changing his or her diet. We often eat food for more reasons than just hunger. We equate food with emotion and experience. From a young age we celebrate birthdays with a delicious slice of chocolate cake, and we are rewarded with a lollipop or piece of candy when displaying good behavior.
However, the lasting health benefits of nutrient-rich foods far outweigh the fleeting happiness that accompanies a sweet treat. With time, proper nutrition becomes a habit that is rewarded with a longer and richer life. Let us know some of your favorite eye-healthy foods below!
Dr. Jenna Zigler
Symptoms of Wet Macular Degeneration 0
Symptoms of Wet Macular Degeneration
Symptoms of degrading vision often build slowly and go unnoticed for a long period of time until they reach a degree of severity that may no longer be ignored. One may notice that he or she now needs glasses to read the text of a favorite book or magazine. Headaches grow more frequent - the result of constantly strained eye muscles. Once bright and vibrant colors may even take on more dull and muted hues.
While many conditions may result in impaired vision, wet macular degeneration is one of the most common culprits. According to AMD.org, when one is afflicted with this form of macular degeneration the membrane beneath the retina thickens and eventually breaks, disrupting the supply of critical oxygen to the macula. In response to this assault, the body forms new, abnormal blood vessels which grow up from beneath the retina toward the macula. These new blood vessels are quite delicate and are prone to leaking, which leads to scarring of the macula. This causes damage to both the retina and macula and often results in a rapid degradation of vision that, once lost, cannot be restored.
As is often the case with illness, catching wet macular degeneration early is key so one may take action to minimize its negative effects. While the condition is fairly serious, there exist several treatment options that can be highly effective if applied early. Following are a few telltale signs of wet macular degeneration.
- Slightly blurred vision
- Visual distortions in which straight lines may appear curved or crooked
- Blind spots that most often appear in the middle of the visual field and that grow larger if left untreated
- Hallucinations that involve seeing objects, animals, or people that aren’t actually present
Along with watching for symptoms, it is also important to know the risk factors for wet macular degeneration. Taking steps to reduce these risk factors is a critical step to take along the path of risk reduction. Additional risk factors for developing this condition include:
- High blood pressure
- A diet high in saturated fats and simple carbohydrates
- Lack of exercise
Knowledge is power. With an increased awareness of both symptoms and risk factors, one can detect and guard against the development of wet macular degeneration before it has a chance to threaten his or her vision. Additionally, eliminating the additional risk factors for this condition will not only help to protect one’s vision, it will also contribute to an overall greater level of health and vitality.
Dr. Jenna Zigler
- 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
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Avastin: Reliable Vision Improvement For AMD Patients 0
Avastin: Reliable Vision Improvement For AMD Patients
The wet type of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which occurs when the disease has progressed from the dry type, is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The drug Avastin is used to treat the wet type of macular degeneration. According to amd.org, “Avastin was developed by Genentech to treat colon cancer. It uses the same antiangiogenic approach to stop the growth of blood vessels to the cancer tumor.”
What is Avastin?
Avastin is the brand name for “bevacizumab,” a drug injected into the eye in order to slow vision loss in people who have wet AMD. Avastin is part of a class of drugs that block the growth of abnormal blood vessels, which are the cause of wet AMD. Avastin is also used to treat macular edema, swelling of the macula, which is often associated with diabetic retinopathy. Since Avastin was approved as a cancer treatment, this use of the drug is considered “off-label” use but this is permissible if a drug is demonstrated to be effective for treating other diseases.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, when asked about the risks of injecting Avastin into the eyes to treat AMD, Dr. Richard Bensinger responded, “Avastin has been a terrific improvement in the treatment of wet macular edema and bleeding as well as new disease states of the eye, which seem to be introduced each day.” The list of potential side effects is long and concerning, as with any cancer treatment, but the amount used to treat the eye is very small, also reducing the risks of side effects.
What are the side effects of Avastin?
Avastin can cause infection in the eye as well as bleeding and inflammation, but these are uncommon. It can also cause the pressure in the eye to rise as well as increase the risk of cataracts but again, these occurrences are rare.
In addition to Avastin, there is another drug frequently prescribed called Lucentis (ranibizumab). It received FDA approval in late June 2006 and the new macular degeneration drug was celebrated as a major breakthrough. Many Americans with the more severe or wet forms of AMD endure gradual loss of central vision. In clinical trials Lucentis has been shown to stop and, in many cases, reverse at least some vision loss. These findings clearly indicate Lucentis is the most effective FDA-approved treatment currently available for AMD.
But some eye doctors suggest that Avastin remains just as effective and is a more realistic option for lower-income people with advanced AMD. The issue remains that Avastin is approved by the FDA only for treatment of colon and other cancers, but not for AMD. Many eye doctors have been using Avastin off-label to treat advanced AMD. Like any treatment plan, one should investigate not only the available options but the risks and side effects of each option in order to make the most informed decisions. Do you suffer from AMD? Have you undergone injections to treat it?
Dr. Jenna Zigler
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