How To Prevent Macular Degeneration?
At what age does Age-Related Macular Degeneration usually begin?
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a progressive retinal disease that causes central vision loss. Affecting up to 11 million people in the United States alone, ARMD is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness. As the population ages, this number is expected to grow. Approximately 10% of individuals age 65 and older and 25% of those age 75 and older are affected by ARMD.
What is the main cause of Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Multiple risk factors affect the onset of ARMD, including older age, smoking, family history of ARMD, hypertension, and obesity.
What are the two forms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is classified into the dry and wet forms. The dry form, where the macula gets thinner and clumps of material called drusen form, is much more common and accounts for 85-90% of documented cases. The dry form can convert into the wet form, where new and abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels can bleed, leak fluid, and cause scar tissue. Wet ARMD accounts for 10-15% of cases, but the majority of severe vision loss and blindness.
What are the warning signs of Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Symptoms of age-related macular degeneration include decreased vision, visual distortions, or waviness in the visual field. Some patients may notice the loss of sharp details required for reading, driving, and recognizing faces and colors. For those with diagnosed ARMD, an Amsler grid may be helpful for home monitoring. The grid helps elucidate distorted, wavy, or blurry spots in the field of vision. A sudden change in the vision or the grid should prompt consultation with an ophthalmologist or retina specialist.
What foods should be avoided with Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
While there is no current proven treatment for dry ARMD, certain steps may slow the progression of the condition. The AREDS2 study discovered people with certain classifications of dry ARMD can slow progression by taking a combination of vitamins daily. Eating foods such as green leafy vegetables and following a balanced, nutrient rich diet is helpful. Minimizing modifiable risk factors including not smoking, controlling blood pressure and maintaining an appropriate weight is crucial. Protecting your eyes from ultraviolet light exposure with sunglasses and hats is also beneficial.
How can you treat Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Wet AMD can be treated with anti-VEGF medications, creating stabilization of vision and even improving eyesight in certain patients. Anti-VEGF treatment is delivered to the eye through a very slender needle, reducing the number of abnormal blood vessels in your eye and slowing leakage and bleeding.
Visual rehabilitation and low vision aids may help certain patients with advanced disease improves their daily functioning. Consultation with a low vision specialist for patients with this condition is recommended.