What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration, which can also be referred to as Aged-related Macular Degeneration, and acronym-ed as ‘AMD’, is a common condition that affects the middle part of your vision. Typically AMD starts to impact people for the first time in their 50’s and 60’s, and gradually becomes a more prominent issue as a person ages.
There are two primary types of Macular Degeneration and these can be defined as Wet AMD and Dry AMD.
Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration is the lesser common but the more serious of the macular degeneration and is brought about by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. These vessels may leak blood or other fluids which will likely cause scarring to the macula. Many people do not realise that they have Wet AMD until it is too far advanced and their central vision is blurry.
Conversely, Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration is a much more common and less serious diagnosis with about 80% of people who are diagnosed with AMD, receiving the ‘dry’ diagnosis. Dry Macular Degeneration is where parts of the macula get thinner with age and small clumps of protein called drusen begin to grow. Central vision is gradually lost over a period of many years until central vision has all but disappeared.
Who Is At Risk Of Macular Degeneration?
In short, a huge percentage of the population are at risk of being diagnosed with AMD, particularly as we age and get to the later points in our life; but there are groups of people, or types of habit or lifestyle that can encourage and advance age-related macular degeneration at a faster rate. You should consider how AMD may impact you if you hit into one or more of the below categories:
- Diets that are high in saturated fats
- Smokers of cigarettes or other products
- Aged 50 and over
- Have hypertension, or sustained high blood pressure
- Have a family history of AMD
If you are within one or more of the categories above, or have recently moved into one of those categories, you should advise your vision retailer and/or private ophthalmologist as the soonest available opportunity.
What Are The Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
There are many symptoms of Macular Degeneration and some of them are incredibly easy to spot, as they will be impacting your minute-to-minute, day-to-day lifestyle and habits. It is important to understand that AMD can occur in one eye or in both eyes, and through activities such as eye yoga, you may be able to identify vision differences between the two eyes.
Some of the most common symptoms of Macular Degeneration are:
- Distorted vision
- ‘Black holes’ in your central vision
- Seeing straight lines are crooked or wavy
- Seeing objects smaller than they are
- Seeing colours less bright than they used to be
- Seeing things that are not there (hallucinations)
While many of these symptoms will be obvious in your day-to-day activities, there are some symptoms which will be more difficult to spot but rest assured that these will get picked up readily and easily as part of your routine eye test.
How Can You Protect Your Eyes From Macular Degeneration?
Taking care of your maculae can be done through a vast number of daily routines and habits as well as lifestyle changes; and a lot of the ways you can protect yourself from macular degeneration will also have a broader knock on impact on the rest of your health - ultimately helping you to become healthier.
Some of the key ways that you can protect your eyes from macular degeneration are via:
Eating Plenty of Fruit & Vegetables
Fruit and Vegetables are packed with a deep and rich supply of antioxidants and vitamins. Making sure you get your daily recommended intake of vitamins A, C and E; as well as key nutrients such as Lutein; which is found strongly in Spinach, Kale and other green vegetables, will help your eyes to stay healthy and combat the daily strain that life, work and digital devices put on them.
Protecting yourself from UV Radiation
Over exposure to sunlight without the proper safety precautions in place can lead to a multitude of problems long term. The vast majority of people associate UV radiation with the skin and as a cause of cancer; and while this is true - your eyes are very similar to the skin, in that they are the body's first line of defence against extremities. Making sure that you have UV protective sunglasses on when you are exposed to intense and prolonged levels of UV radiation is key to protecting your eyes from AMD.
Book an Eye Test every Two Years
The key to maintaining eye health is regularity and making sure that you book your eye test either every year or every other year; so that any issues that you may have with your eyes are picked up with your ophthalmologist sooner rather than later; so that treatment and lifestyle changes can be made more effectively and quicker.