Macular degeneration, commonly referred to as AMD, is an eye condition that damages the central parts of our vision. Drusen, a waste material that is toxic to the retina, builds up inside of the eye. As the drusen builds up it damages the cells in the central parts of our vision that help us to see clearly. Dry macular degeneration happens from the build of drusen. Over time the drusen can cause bleeding and swelling of the retina, which is known as wet macular degeneration.
You may not experience symptoms of macular degeneration in the early stages. As the macula becomes damaged, tasks such as reading become more difficult and frustrating. You may feel that you easily lose your place when reading or you might reread words or jump around on the page easily. As macular degeneration progresses, it may become more difficult to recognize facial features of friends and family members. Symptoms may include:
Constant, blurred vision
Missing central vision
Decreased contrast and color vision
Like many eye diseases, macular degeneration does not have symptoms in the early stages. Early detection of macular degeneration is important to help slow the progression of the disease. The best way to see if you have eye problems from macular degeneration is to have a dilated eye examination. Why is a dilated eye exam necessary? A routine examination that only checks for glasses or contact lenses does not fully check for damage to the eye from macular degeneration. A dilated eye examination allows the eye doctor to closely check the health of the inside of the eyes to look for signs of damage to the retina. Additional tests such as an ultrasound of the eye may be used to detect the earliest signs of macular degeneration. If you have a family history of macular degeneration, then genetic testing can be performed to determine the level of risk that you might have to develop macular degeneration.
Lifestyle and diet changes are important in slowing the progression of macular degeneration. Three of the more important things to do is to stop smoking, control blood pressure, and wear UV-protection sunglasses when outdoors. Smoking has been heavily studied and determined to contribute to worsening of macular degeneration. Elevated or poorly controlled blood pressure has also been shown to contribute to progression of macular degeneration. Because ultraviolet (UV) sunlight damages the retina, it is important to wear sunglasses outside that protect our eyes from UV-A and UV-B sunlight.
Eye supplements are not created equally when it comes to macular degeneration. A normal eye multivitamin does not contain the necessary amounts of vitamins to help slow macular degeneration. Only the eye supplements that follow the AREDS and AREDS2 clinical studies are recommended for helping to slow the progression of macular degeneration. It is important to know that the AREDS and AREDS2 supplements are only recommended for specific stages of macular degeneration. Talk with our eye doctors at Grand Eye Care at your next visit to determine which eye supplements are best for your eyes.
If you take blood thinners or have heart disease, then you should consult with your primary medical doctor to determine if you are safely able to take macular degeneration supplements that contain high levels Vitamin E.