February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration awareness month!
As an optometric practice, we want to inform our patients of the causes and treatments for AMD. Age-Related Macular Degeneration is a common eye condition that leads to central vision loss, and typically occurs in patients over the age of 60. The condition causes a breakdown of the macula, a small part of the retina that allows us to see sharp details in our central field of vision. Age-Related Macular Degeneration itself does not lead to blindness, but it can interfere with daily activities such as driving, reading, cooking, and working on a computer.
AMD is split into three stages: early, intermediate, and late. In both early and intermediate forms,
the condition usually does not manifest itself in any vision symptoms or problems, but can be diagnosed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist when examining the retina of the eye. Late stage AMD comes in two forms: dry and wet. Dry AMD entails a gradual breakdown and thinning of the tissue of the macula which can cause gradual vision loss. Wet AMD is more severe, and involves abnormal blood vessels growing underneath the retina. These vessels can leak fluid and and blood, potentially causing rapid and severe vision damage.
Although there is no cure for AMD, there are many steps in addition to surgery or injections that can be taken to lessen your risk for the condition. Eating fruits and vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens, can help protect against the beginning of AMD, as can consuming fish 2-3 times per week. Age-related eye disease studies conducted by the National Institute of Health have shown that various vitamin supplements can also slow the condition, including vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, copper, omega-3, and beta-carotene. Research has also shown that smoking has been proven to double the risk of AMD – so make steps quit today! In our office we have recently purchased a BEMER vascular therapy device, which anecdotal evidence has shown increases microcirculation and effectively stimulates the immune system. We believe that use of the BEMER can be important for AMD by increasing circulation in the retina and slowing the aging process.
As always, if you notice any changes in your vision be sure to make an appointment with one of the doctors at EyeCare Associates who can check your eye health and function and make recommendations for preserving your vision. Most insurance companies now cover one yearly eye exam, so why not get your eyes checked and protect your vision?