Macular Degeneration: A Devastating Disease
Today, we're going to chat a bit about macular degeneration. So many people have heard those words but have no real understanding of the disease or how devastating it can be. So here we go...
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in those 50 years and older, according to the National Eye Institute. This disease causes damage to the macula, a small spot in the center of the retina at the back of the eye. This area supplies us with crisp central vision and is responsible for the vision you have when looking directly at a face or spotting something at a distance.
As you can imagine, not being able to spot your friends walking toward you or recognize the face of a loved one can be life-altering!
Depending on the person, AMD can either advance very slowly with minimal vision change, or it can advance quickly to cause vision loss in one or both eyes. Here's what to watch out for:
- Gradual loss of vision or blurry vision
- Dark or empty areas in the center of vision
- Objects begin to appear distorted and straight lines appear wavy
- Loss of crisp color vision and contrast
Unfortunately, the older you get, the more at risk you are for macular degeneration. This disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur at younger ages as well. Other risk factors to note:
- Smoking: This DOUBLES the risk of AMD! That's right...I said DOUBLES!
- Race: It is more common in Caucasians and those with light hair and eyes.
- Family History: Those with a family history of AMD are at higher risk (think mom, dad, or even grandma).
- High Blood Pressure and Elevated Cholesterol
You may be thinking, "Wow, that's a lot of information!", And it is...but I'm not just here to tell you what this disease is. I'm also here to let you in on some things YOU can do to prevent this awful condition from taking your sight. Here's what you can do to help prevent it:
- STOP smoking! Now!
- Exercise regularly...even just a daily walk.
- Eat a varied diet of green, leafy vegetables (think spinach) and colorful ones too (carrots, bell peppers).
- Eat oily fish or take a fish oil supplement. Check out Nordic Naturals!
- If you already have AMD, take eye vitamins...Preservision is a great one.
- Wear sunglasses while outdoors...you can find our collection here!
- Get regular dilated eye exams.
I hope I've provided you with a bit of information today that you can take home and share with your loved ones. Vision is so important, and no one wants to be without it. Here's your chance to start doing what YOU can to prevent this from happening to you or someone you love!
Until next time,
Don't forget to follow us on Instagram @eyelovethesun and tag your sunny selfies #eyelovethesun!
- Dr. Jenna Zigler