What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Slight vision changes are a common part of the ageing process. Age-related macular degeneration, however, can lead to significant vision changes and vision loss. Often shortened to AMD, age-related macular degeneration is happens when the macula deteriorates. The macula is located in the center of the retina and is responsible for visual acuity, or detail vision.
Typically, most AMD cases affect people over age 50. For Americans over the age of 65, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss. AMD is one of the reasons why annual eye exams are so important, especially past age 65.
How We Diagnose & Manage AMD
Annual Eye Exams
Regular eye exams once per year are the best way to detect AMD early and protect your sight. When you visit the optometrist for regular eye exams, your optometrist can monitor your vision for small changes over time, allowing AMD to be caught as early as possible. If your optometrist is concerned about AMD, they may perform a dilated eye exam to check for the disease.
AMD Risk Factors
During your regular eye exam, your optometrist will assess you for risk factors associated with AMD. Factors they may take into consideration include:
- Advancing age, especially over age 65
- Family history of AMD
- Cardiovascular disease, including hypertension
Warning Signs of AMD
Blurry vision, distorted vision, and other vision changes can be symptoms of AMD. Because the macula controls visual acuity, many patients experience difficulty seeing detail. This can present as trouble reading, driving, or recognizing faces.
If you notice any changes in your vision, visit your optometrist right away.
Nutrition supplementation is a management technique used to help slow the progression of AMD. Research has shown that foods containing carotenoids can help reduce AMD, particularly wet AMD. Carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin act as antioxidants and help to protect the retina. These carotenoids are commonly found in fruits and vegetables, including:
- Brussel sprouts
- Green beans
- Orange juice