Macular Degeneration

Age related macular degeneration is becoming a significant vision problem in the U.S. as our population is living longer.  This condition, which affects the central area of the retina known as the macula, has two different forms.  The first, which is a less debilitating form of the condition, is called dry degeneration.  Approximately 80-90 % of ARMD cases have this form, and it usually causes mild to moderate vision loss.  The more profound negative affect to vision is caused by the second form, known as wet degeneration.  This exists in many fewer patients, but accounts for over 80% of the cases that cause legal blindness.

There are lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk of ARMD.  There are four main areas for which we can have some control.  The first is to not smoke.  Another important factor is to wear sunglasses to give the eye protection from harmful UV radiation.  Another key component to care is to reduce your cholesterol, and to add lutein to your diet.  Lutein is an antioxidant that can be found in the retina, and the best food source is in green leaf vegetables.  The most abundant source of lutein is in spinach.  As recent as several years ago, there were few treatment options for wet ARMD.  With early detection, there are now drugs that can be injected into the eye to help reduce the affects of wet ARMD.

The macula is the central area of the retina that gives us our clearest and most detailed vision.  Macular degeneration is generally an age related change to the macula, and the vision loss can range from slight loss of vision to legal blindness.  A key to treating ARMD is early detection, and then using the appropriate treatment plan.

There are two types of macular degeneration, dry and wet.  Dry ARMD is much more common, and patients have less vision loss.  Wet ARMD can be much more visually debilitating, and getting quick treatment is vitally important.

Dry ARMD is generally a slow change to the central vision as we age.  There are preventative ways to reduce the potential affect, and they include diet and the use of nutritional supplements.  Wet ARMD can be a sudden change in vision, and usually causes more distortion and waviness.  There are medical treatments now available through a series of injections of a drug into the eye that have shown promising results in many patients.

Risk factors that you can control

  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

Risk factors you can’t control

  • Age – over 60 has higher risk
  • Family history – may have abnormal gen
  • Gender – women have higher incidence than men
  • Race – more prevalent in whites

Four things you can do to reduce your risk

  1. Don’t smoke
  2. Lower your cholesterol
  3. Wear sunshades (UV radiation can speed up the aging process)
  4. Nutrition:  Take a general daily vitamin, intake of lutein with supplements and diet.  Recommended dosage of 20 mg/day.  Also recommend to take omega 3 fish oils.

For more information:  www.amdawareness.org

There are not many things that would be worse than losing your precious sight.  You can reduce the risk of ARMD, and there are treatments available for some forms of the condition.  Please call today to make an appointment.