What is macular degeneration (AMD) and how can you prevent it?

Macular Degeneration

You may have heard of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), or perhaps you know someone who has been diagnosed with the condition. But if you’re like most people, you’re probably are not very familiar with the details of the condition. Below we’ve summarized the most important facts you need to know about this eye disease, and what steps you can take to prevent and treat it. 

What Is Macular Degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older (though it’s most likely to occur after age 60). Someone with AMD has damage to their macula, the most sensitive part of the retina that allows us to see objects straight ahead. Someone with macular degeneration may develop blank spots in their central vision or see objects dimly.

How fast the disease progresses depends on the individual, with some people not noticing any changes to their vision for a long time. Macular degeneration by itself does not leave individuals completely blind, but it can hinder everyday activities, such as seeing faces clearly, driving, reading, writing or work that requires seeing closely. 

Factors that contribute to macular degeneration are:

  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Race (macular degeneration is more prevalent among Caucasians than African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos)
  • Family history and genetics

How to Prevent Macular Degeneration

While there is nothing you can do to prevent aging (if you have found the fountain of youth, please let all of us know!), there are certain lifestyle activities that you can do to prevent macular degeneration.

  • Avoid smoking
  • Regularly exercise
  • Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Eat a healthy diet, including dark green, leafy vegetables and fish

And in addition to all of those things, be sure to get frequent eye exams from your optometrist. Your optometrist can give specific recommendations based on your lifestyle and can perform the necessary tests to detect macular degeneration. Be sure to ask clarifying questions if you do not understand what your eye doctor tells you, such as:

  • Can my macular degeneration be treated?
  • How will this condition affect my vision now and in the future?
  • What symptoms should I look for?
  • What lifestyle changes do I need to make?
  • (If your loved one has macular degeneration) What can I do to help my loved one?

For further information about macular degeneration, visit this article or be sure to schedule an appointment with your optometrist. If you don’t have vision insurance, learn more about VSP vision insurance today and get your eye exam within the week.

Source: https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts