My mom suffered from a multitude of health conditions, including one that diminished her vision: macular degeneration.
As a person who’s suffered from nearsightedness for most of my life, which steadily worsened until just a few years ago, macular degeneration is something I fear. Simply because I want to maintain what vision I have left for as long as I can.
Let me put it this way: Without my glasses on or my contacts in my eyes, I can’t read the computer screen unless I put my face about 12 inches from it! That’s bad enough for me!
So what is macular degeneration?
According to the National Eye Institute, (NEI) macular degeneration is an age-related condition, one that progressively destroys a person’s “sharp, central vision.” Central vision is needed for driving, reading, and simply seeing objects clearly. Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, affects the eye’s macula, which helps the eye see fine detail. For people over 60, AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss.
Image via Wikipedia
The Two Forms of AMD: Wet and Dry
Here’s how the NEI describes Wet AMD:
“Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These new blood vessels tend to be very fragile and often leak blood and fluid. The blood and fluid raise the macula from its normal place at the back of the eye. Damage to the macula occurs rapidly.” It is an advanced form of the disease, one in which a person can quickly lose their vision.
Dry AMD, on the other hand, gradually causes central vision loss. The NEI describes the dry form this way:
“Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry
AMD gets worse, you may see a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Over time, as less of the macula functions, central vision is gradually lost in the affected eye.”
The Mayo Clinic talks more about Dry Macular Degeneration, the more common form, at this link.
Whike age is the primary risk factor for developing AMD, there are others.
- Smoking (One more reason to quit!)
- Race (More common in whites than in African Americans)
- Family History
- Gender (Females get AMD more often than males)
How We Can Reduce our Risk of Getting AMD:
- Eat a healthier diet, one that’s low in bad fats and cholesterol. Highly processed foods increase our risk of developing AMD.
- Eat dark green leafy veggies and yellow veggies. You can find a list of great options at this article from the Third Age website.
- Eat more fish to get your Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Watch your blood pressure and weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses.
- Get your eyes checked regularly.
To learn more about AMD, go to the eMedicine Health website. This site provides a comprehensive discussion of the disease.
For Johns Hopkins free Health Alerts Guide to Macular Degeneration, click here.
National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute: Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration
ThirdAge.com, Macular Degeneration Prevention