Steps to Help Prevent Macular Degeneration
down the street one day, you notice that the telephone pole in front
of you is looking rather odd. Instead of standing upright as it
ought to, it looks, well... wavy. You glance around at the side
of the building next to you, and it, too, is not its usual straight
worry, you're not going nuts! But you may be one of 13 million Americans
who have a common, age-related eye disease called macular degeneration.
degeneration, often called AMD or ARMD (for "age- related macular
degeneration"), is the leading cause of vision loss and legal
blindness in Americans age 65 and older, according to the eye-health
organization Prevent Blindness America. The macula is the part of
the retina we use for reading, driving, recognizing faces, watching
television, and fine work: in short, it is the region of maximum
visual acuity. The exact causes of AMD are still unknown, but risk
- the risk increases with age.
family history of macular degeneration
exposure to sunlight
blood pressure and/or cardiovascular disease
female and/or Caucasian - these groups tend to get the disease
more than their counterparts.
loss usually occurs gradually and typically affects both eyes at
different rates. How do you know if you have AMD? If straight lines
look wavy, as mentioned above, or there are shadowy areas or dark
or empty spots in your central vision, you may be experiencing early
signs of the disease.
are two forms of age-related macular degeneration: "wet"
and "dry." Most patients have the dry form, which may
result from the aging and thinning of macular tissue, or disturbances
in its pigmentation. In the wet form, new blood vessels grow beneath
the retina and leak blood and fluid, which causes retinal cells
to die and creates blind spots in central vision. The formation
of blood vessels and deposits known as "drusen" from blood
vessels in and under the macular is often the first physical sign
that AMD may develop. The "wet" form accounts for 90 percent
of all cases of legal blindness in macular degeneration patients.
there is no cure for AMD, there are five steps you can take to lower
your risk or slow down the progression of dry AMD.
smoke. Smoking is a powerful risk factor for loss of vision with
AMD. In fact, one study showed that smoking more than doubles
the risk of AMD. This study also found that AMD is more than twice
as common in people who smoke more than a pack of cigarettes a
day, compared with people who do not smoke.
sunglasses. UV protection may play an important role in preventing
AMD. Beginning at a young age, begin protecting the eyes from
UV light. Look for sunglasses that afford 100% UV protection or
prescription eyewear with the same. A brimmed hat offers extra
protection to shade the eyes when you are outdoors.
for your cardiovascular system. Recently published data shows
that people with uncontrolled hypertension were approximately
three times as likely to develop the wet, or more severe, type
of macular degeneration, compared to those without hypertension.
Regular cardiovascular activity, such as walking or biking, may
reduce the rate of progression to advanced AMD by as much as 25
Mom always said, eat your fruits and vegetables! Studies have
shown that a diet rich in dark, leafy green vegetables will help
decrease an individual's risk of developing AMD and/or help delay
progression of the disease once it has begun. A recent study sponsored
by the National Institutes of Health found that individuals who
had the highest consumption of vegetables rich in carotenoids,
especially lutein and zeaxanthin, had a 43% lower risk of developing
AMD than those who ate these foods the least. Vegetables that
are rich in these two carotenoids include raw spinach, kale, and
collard greens. A new study also shows that people who eat three
or more servings per day of fruit have a 36 percent lower risk
of AMD compared to those who ate less than one-and-a-half servings
per day. If an intermediate degree of AMD has already developed,
or an advanced degree of AMD has developed in one eye, studies
indicate that dietary supplementation with vitamins E and C, beta-carotene,
zinc and copper may help to delay progression of the disease.
Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
dietary fat. Before you reach for that pint of Ben & Jerry's
Wavy Gravy, consider that high fat intake is associated with an
increased risk of AMD. A study published in the August 2001 issue
of Archives of Ophthalmology found that consumption of omega-3
fatty acids, which are particularly prevalent in cold-water fish,
had a protective effect against advanced macular degeneration.
Meanwhile, consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, prevalent in vegetable
oils, was associated with an increased risk. But go nuts for nuts!
Eating one serving a day of any type of nut, according to AgingEye
Times, reduces the risk of progression of AMD by 40 percent.
course, regular eye exams are key to preventing vision loss. Although
AMD appears to be hereditary in some families but not in others,
if you have a family history of the disease, it pays to be on the
alert. If you are 65 or older, you should get a complete eye exam
every one or two years, even if you have no problem seeing well.
your vision in just minutes a day -- without glasses, contacts,
or dangerous lasik surgery. Discover the amazingly simple
natural vision correction system that touts a 94% success rate
in reversing vision problems. Click
here to never wear glasses again or risk dangerous surgery.
Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties
and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements
have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and
these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat,
cure or prevent any disease.