If you’ve been keeping abreast on the various topics concerning your eye health then, you must have noticed that Age-Related Macular Degeneration is often listed as a potential disease. Have you been wondering exactly what AMD is, what the symptoms are and, what you can do to prevent it? Here are the answers to your questions. 

Age-related Macular Degeneration is the deterioration of the small central portion of the retina, called the macula. The retina provides our brains with visual recognition, so if parts of it stop functioning or if it’s ability to transfer information diminishes this will cause vision problems.

There are two types of AMD:
Dry – This is the most common form of AMD and it consists of yellow fat and protein deposits on the macula. People, tend to notice it while reading and it often leads to dimmer or distorted vision. In severe cases, the tissues surrounding the macula can become atrophied, leading to blind spots or in the worse cases central vision loss.

Wet – This form of AMD is caused by abnormal blood vessels underneath the macula that leak or bleed and eventually form scars. The blood leaks into the retina causing blind spots, making straight lines appear wavy and, once the scars form, it may cause permanent vision loss. Vision loss in the wet form occurs faster and is more significant than in the dry form.

The dry form of Macular Degeneration can lead to the wet form but only 10% of people with the disease get the wet form.

Although this disease tends to affect people as they age, there are other factors that can cause AMD. Some of the causes are unfortunately genetic. However, some like smoking, high blood pressure and diet you can control and manage by choosing a healthy lifestyle. 

Even though this all may seem bleak, it is important to note that there are ways of preventing or slowing the progression of this disease! Here is how:
-Book a yearly eye exam! This is especially important as we age, your optometrist can detect early signs of AMD or other diseases that may affect your overall health.
-Don’t smoke!
-Eat a healthy diet of greens, antioxidant filled fruits and foods rich in lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene. If you're looking for inspiration, we have plenty of healthy recipes on our blog
-Take good quality omega-3 fish oil supplements or eat salmon
-Exercise regularly
-Maintain a healthy body weight and speak to your family doctor about controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
-Wear quality sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV
-Wear blue light filtering glasses when using a digital device

In the unfortunate event that you develop AMD, there are options available to you to stabilize or slow the disease progression! Consult with your optometrist to know how to maintain and promote your vision based on your specific condition and needs.