Lev Shustarovich/Lipotriad LLC – When it comes to aging, little is more terrifying than losing your independence through the loss of your sight. A common cause of blindness in older adults is age-related macular degeneration (“AMD”), an eye disease which usually affects adults over the age of 50. There are three stages of AMD: early, intermediate, and advanced. The most common form of macular degeneration is found in the early and intermediate stages and is known as the “dry” form. Dry AMD accounts for about 90% of all cases with the remaining 10% of cases composed of the “wet” form of AMD, which is the advanced stage. People suffering from both forms of macular degeneration will experience difficulty seeing directly in front of them. Activities such as driving, reading, or even watching TV become difficult because the sharp central vision needed to engage in these activities successfully will be blurred. In extreme cases, macular degeneration can eventually lead to blindness in one or both eyes. Permanent blindness is usually a result of the more aggressive “wet” macular degeneration. About 1.7 million Americans have some form of macular degeneration and it is now the leading cause of vision loss among Americans age 65 and over.
Although there is no cure for macular degeneration, researchers have discovered several measures people can take to help prevent the onset of the disease and slow its development. A study done by the National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that taking a specific high-dose formulation of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduces the risk of advanced AMD and its associated vision loss. According to studies done by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, a high intake of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in particular can decrease your risk of AMD by as much as 43 percent, while increasing macular pigment density (a crucial factor in visual acuity) by as much as 40 percent. The National Institute of Health (NIH) also concluded that taking a combination of lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fish oil, copper, zinc, and the vitamins C and E will help protect your lens and retina from damage and support proper moisture levels for your eyes, resulting in a lower risk of developing AMD. Based on all these studies, it is clear that supplementation with vitamins is an essential step that can help delay and possibly prevent the progression of dry macular degeneration into the advanced stage where permanent vision loss occurs.
Macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in adults over 50. But proactive steps can be taken to prevent and delay its onset. It is important to wear sunglasses when outside, avoid eating fatty foods, and stop smoking. Foods high in carotenoids such as cantaloupe, spinach, and carrots are great foods to eat on a regular basis. Eating a diet rich in lutein and fish oil, found in dark leafy vegetables and certain fish also supports optimal eye health. But most adults rarely get enough vision-optimizing nutrients through diet alone. Taking a daily vitamin that is high in lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega 3 fish oil provides essential nutrients to keep eyes healthy.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms
Dry macular degeneration symptoms usually develop gradually. You may notice these vision changes:
- The need for increasingly bright light when reading or doing close work
- Increasing difficulty adapting to low light levels, such as when entering a dimly lit restaurant
- Increasing blurriness of printed words
- A decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- A gradual increase in the haziness of your overall vision
- A blurred or blind spot in the center of your field of vision
- Hallucinations of geometric shapes or people, in cases of advanced macular degeneration
Dry macular degeneration may affect one eye or both eyes. If only one eye is affected, you may not notice any or much change in your vision because your good eye compensates for the weak one.
AMAC, Inc. recommends that you always consult your personal physician before making any health care decisions.