If you or someone you know has ever had trouble reading, driving, looking at photographs, or recognizing faces due to their vision, they may have age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a progressive eye condition that causes a person’s central vision to become blurred which can make simple activities difficult to perform and enjoy. This happens when the macula (the most light-sensitive portion of the retina which provides central vision) becomes damaged and begins to deteriorate over time. Most people with this condition are able to retain their peripheral vision but will have blindspots when looking straight ahead.
There are two types of AMD:
- Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration: This type of AMD is more common and occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly break down. This causes a person’s central vision to slowly become blurred. Many people may not even notice the onset of this type as changes can be subtle. However, once it advances, it can convert to wet age-related macular degeneration.
- Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration: This is the more serious of the two types and occurs when new blood vessels grow under the retina and leak fluid into the eye. This type of AMD can lead to total central vision loss and often comes on suddenly with extremely distorted vision and blind spots.
Risk factors of AMD include: being over the age of 60, being of caucasian descent, smoking, and a genetic family history. The best way to catch AMD early is by getting yearly eye exams. Fortunately, there are other lifestyle changes that you can implement to help reduce your risk
- Avoid smoking (this will reduce your chances of having AMD by half)
- Exercise regularly to increase blood flow
- Incorporate healthy options into your diet such as salmon (omega 3) and leafy greens (vitamins C, E, and lutein)
- Always wear sunglasses on bright days to protect your eyes from damaging UV rays
- Taking a multivitamin