The leading cause of irreversible blindness in people over the age of 65, Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), is a progressive eye disease that causes damage to the Macula, which is the most concentrated central portion of the retina.
“It’s like a ballpark,” said board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles. “If you think about a ballpark, the pitcher’s mound would be the Macula. It is still part of the entire ballpark, it is just the most central portion of the ballpark. And like the pitcher’s mound, the Macula is an area where a lot of action happens.”
AMD causes the light-sensitive cells in the Macula to break down and die, affecting central vision, causing blind or blurry spots that grow as AMD progresses. This can begin to make simple, everyday tasks – like reading and driving – difficult or even impossible.
Fortunately, the eye disease “doesn’t come on all of a sudden,” explained David M. Kleinman, MD, MBA, associate professor of ophthalmology at the Flaum Eye Institute, University of Rochester Medical Center, in Rochester, New York. AMD comes on gradually, with age.
Coping with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
According to Kleinman, in order to cope with AMD, “you have to change your lifestyle.”
- For starters, if you smoke, stop it. Smokers have two to three times the risk of developing AMD than nonsmokers.
- Eat your fruits and vegetables. According to a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, women who eat large amounts of vegetables – like broccoli, squash, corn, and peas – better Maintain Healthy Vision as they age.
- Antioxidants and zinc can help lower the risk of vision loss by as much as 25%, according to a 10-year clinical trial by the NEI.
- According to a 2006 study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, regular exercise (three or more times a week) can reduce a person’s risk of Age Related Macular Degeneration by as much as 70%.
- Research suggests that protecting your eyes from the sun could be beneficial. “I recommend wearing a hat and sunglasses when outside on sunny days,” said Kleinman.
- Schedule regular appointments with your eye doctor – optometrist or ophthalmologist.
“If you are diagnosed with early AMD, you can decrease the chances of losing vision,” added Kleinman.
If you have any questions about our blog, “Coping with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD),” or if you would like to know more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration, please contact Dr. Boles, consultative optometrists Dr. Nathan Frank and Dr. Corinne Casey, and the eye care specialists at the Anne Arundel Eye Center by calling 410-224-2010 or visiting AnneArundelEyeCenter.com today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube as well!
For more eye care advice and information, please take a look at our previous blog posts.