Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Treating Macular Degeneration at the Yaldo Eye Center

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in individuals over the age of 60. A complete medical eye examination by a board-certified ophthalmologist at Yaldo Eye Center can determine if you have it.

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration? (AMD)

It’s the leading cause of vision loss in individuals over the age of 60.

 – Common risk factors include aging, smoking, obesity, inactivity, high blood pressure and family history of macular degeneration.

– Symptoms may include seeing wavy lines, hazy vision, and blurriness.

In a healthy eye, the retina processes images for sight, almost like the film of a camera. At the center of your retina is an area called the macula, which controls your color vision and fine, detailed central vision. With macular degeneration, your color vision may become dim. Everyday tasks like reading, driving and recognizing faces become increasingly difficult as time goes on. It’s as if someone has dimmed the lights on your central vision, even though your peripheral vision is not affected.

The Two Stages of Macular Degeneration

 1. Dry (atrophic) caused by the thinning or breaking down of the macula tissue. Over 75% of patients diagnosed have dry macular degeneration.

 2. Wet (exudative) occurs when the small blood vessels nourishing the retina break and leak fluid and blood under the retina. Scar tissue then forms, resulting in new, fragile blood vessels that can continue to break, leak and damage the retina.

Macular Degeneration Testing and Treatment

Testing may include a color vision test, Amsler grid test and/or a fluorescein angiogram. The Amsler grid test is a repeating series of horizontal and vertical lines where one sees if any lines appear to be wavy, broken, crooked or missing. A fluorescein angiogram determines the exact condition of the macula to see if new blood vessels are forming under the retina and where they are located.

To date, there is no FDA-approved treatment for dry macular degeneration. Research and studies have indicated that high doses of antioxidants and zinc supplements may slow the progression of dry macular degeneration. Many different low vision aids including magnifying glasses and bright reading lights are available. The FDA has approved a new injectable drug therapy which shows promising results.

The vision experts at Yaldo Eye Center take an individualized approach to treat macular degeneration and will discuss treatment plans with you at length. You can also visit Vitrea if you are looking for AREDS vitamins for macular degeneration

Macular Degeneration Lifestyle Factors

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Among these, dietary and lifestyle choices play a significant role in the management and progression of the disease. Here’s a detailed look into how these factors affect AMD:

Dietary Factors:

Antioxidants: Diets rich in antioxidants may help to prevent or delay the progression of AMD. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which can damage the macula. Foods high in antioxidants include leafy green vegetables (like spinach and kale), fruits (especially berries), and nuts.

Zinc: Zinc plays a vital role in maintaining eye health. Shellfish, meat, nuts, and seeds are good sources of zinc. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) showed that zinc, along with antioxidants, may slow the progression of AMD.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3s, found in fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, are thought to contribute to retinal health and may help reduce the risk of AMD.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin: These carotenoids, found in high concentrations in the eye, are believed to protect against AMD. They are present in high quantities in green leafy vegetables and eggs.

Low Glycemic Index (GI) Foods: Diets with a lower glycemic index may be beneficial. High GI foods can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, potentially contributing to AMD progression.

Avoid Certain Fats: Saturated fats and trans fats found in processed foods can increase the risk of AMD, so limiting these is recommended.

Lifestyle Factors:

Smoking: Smoking significantly increases the risk of AMD. It contributes to oxidative stress and vascular damage, which can harm the retina. Quitting smoking is one of the most effective ways to reduce AMD risk.

Sun Exposure: Protecting eyes from excessive sunlight and UV rays can reduce the risk of AMD. Wearing sunglasses with UV protection and a hat with a brim is advisable.

Exercise: Regular physical activity can improve overall health and may reduce the risk of AMD. Exercise improves blood circulation, which is beneficial for eye health.

Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels: Hypertension and high cholesterol can negatively impact eye health. Managing these through diet, exercise, and medication (if prescribed) is important.

Regular Eye Exams: Early detection of AMD is crucial for managing its progression. Regular eye exams are important, especially for those over 50.

Control Blood Sugar Levels: If you have diabetes or are at risk, managing blood sugar levels is essential, as diabetes complications can exacerbate AMD.

While genetic factors play a role in AMD, lifestyle and dietary choices can significantly influence its onset and progression. A diet rich in antioxidants, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and low GI foods, coupled with a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, avoiding smoking, and protecting eyes from UV light, can help manage and potentially reduce the risk of AMD. Regular eye exams remain crucial for early detection and effective management of the condition.

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