You've probably heard of macular degeneration before, but unless you or someone you know has been diagnosed with it, you may not know much about it. Here's what you need to know about this disease--and how to prevent it.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is when the central portion of the retina--known as the macula--starts to deteriorate. The macula is responsible for the sharp, central vision needed for driving, reading, recognizing faces and other "straight ahead" activities.
According to the National Eye Institute, when someone's macula is damaged, their center field of vision may be blurred, distorted, or dark.
Macular degeneration currently affects more than 10 million Americans and is the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 50.
Are macular degeneration and age-related macular degeneration the same thing?
Yes. Macular degeneration, which is also called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), typically affects people who are 60 and older.
What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?
There are typically very few or no symptoms in the earlier stages of macular degeneration. In the later stages, symptoms include vision loss or distorted or blurred vision. The condition can only be detected with a comprehensive dilated eye exam, so it's important to visit an eye doctor if you have symptoms or are at a higher risk of the disease because of family history or habits (smoking, in particular).
Is there a cure for macular degeneration?
There is no cure for macular degeneration, but there are treatment options that can provide some relief or slow the progression of the disease. These include supplements, ocular injections, photodynamic therapy, and laser surgery. Wearing eyewear with high-quality lenses that protects vision, enhances color and contrast, and reduces glare is also highly recommended for those with macular degeneration.
What is the best way to prevent macular degeneration?Recent research suggests that a number of positive habits and lifestyle changes can help prevent macular degeneration. Here's where to start:
1. Quit smoking. Smokers are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration.
2. Know your family history. If a family member has macular degeneration, you're at a greater risk of developing it.
3. Eat your greens. Green veggies--including spinach, kale, Swiss chard--are chock-full of antioxidant vitamins and can help protect your eyes from cellular damage.
4. Take the right supplements. A special blend of supplements called AREDS--which includes vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, lutein and zeaxanthin--may be especially effective.
5. Protect your vision with Eagle Eyes. Exposure to UV and blue light can damage the retina, so using advanced optic technology is an excellent way to protect your vision in the long term. Our TriLenium® technology blocks 99.9% of harmful UV radiation, and all of our technologies used for night driving glasses, low light vision enhancement, and computer screen glasses --block scattered blue light.
6. Stay healthy. High blood pressure can restrict blood flow to the eyes, so eating healthy and exercising to lower your blood pressure can make a real difference.
7. Get tested. You can test and monitor yourself at home with the Amsler test, but it's also important to get regular comprehensive eye exams--especially as you get older.