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Macular Degeneration

Concerned About Macular Degeneration? – Here Are 6 Tips to Lower your Risk

What Is Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of the macula, the key part of the retina responsible for highly detailed vision and central vision. There are two main types of macular degeneration: dry and wet.

Dry AMD occurs when small deposits in the macula called drusen gradually damage the light-sensitive retinal nerve cells, leading to vision loss.

In wet AMD, fragile new blood vessels grow under the macula. When these blood vessels leak blood or fluid, it damages the macula. Although both types of macular degeneration can result in vision loss, wet AMD is the more serious form of the disease as it results in faster and greater vision loss.

Who Is At High Risk for Macular Degeneration?

  • age 50+
  • a diet high in saturated fat
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Family history of AMD
  • Cardiovascular disease

6 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Macular Degeneration

The following have been shown to lower the risk of developing AMD:

Stop smoking

If you don’t smoke, don’t start, and if you smoke—quit. Smokers are 4 times more at risk of developing AMD and typically develop the disease around 10 years earlier than non-smokers.

Wear Quality Sunglasses

UV rays from sunlight can put your eyes at risk. So make sure you choose high-quality 100% UVA & UBV filtering sunglasses to block the sun’s harmful UV rays. Consider getting polarized lenses, as they filter out reflected light rays more efficiently. That’s especially important if you spend time on the water, at the beach, in the snow or driving.

Check Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure not only harms your heart, but restricts oxygenated blood from reaching your eyes. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. If you already have hypertension, consider using an at-home monitor to keep tabs on it.

Eat Healthy and Consider Supplements

Cut out saturated fat, which can raise your blood pressure. Eat fewer animal fats and replace butter with olive oil. Look for plant-based, high-protein alternatives to meat, and eat oily fish like sardines, mackerel and salmon.

Dark, leafy greens are terrific for your eyes. Kale and other greens are full of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that promote eye health. If you have dry AMD, ask your optometrist about antioxidant supplements that can slow AMD’s progression.

Know Your Family History

Up to 70% of AMD cases have a genetic component. People with a parent or sibling with AMD have a greater risk of developing this serious sight-threatening eye disease. If you have a family history of this disease, get your eyes frequent eye tested for AMD.

Get Your Eyes Checked Regularly

Everyone should have regular comprehensive eye exams, especially if you’re over 50, have a family history of AMD, hypertension or other risk factors.

An eye exam that screens for AMD typically includes:

  • Visual Acuity – tests your ability to read and see an eye chart from various distances
  • Pupil Dilation – the optometrist applies eye drops to dilate the pupil so they can examine the inside of your eyes
  • Digital Retina Image and/or OCT – full color 3D imaging of the macula to detect leakage from the vessels and measure retinal thickness. This can help the eye doctor diagnose wet AMD, even in the early phases.
  • Amsler Grid – The optometrist asks the patient how straight lines on a checkerboard grid appear. The answer “wavy” or “missing” could indicate the presence dry or wet AMD.

Your vision is your gateway to the world. Good vision lets you live an active and independent life, even in your advanced years. Regardless of your age, get your eyes checked regularly, and all the more frequently if you have a family history of AMD or other risk factors.

To schedule your eye exam with Dr. Shear, contact Northwestern Eye Associates in Mt. Dennis today.

FAQ

What percentage of the population has macular degeneration?

An estimated 8.7% of the global population has macular degeneration. This number is expected to increase from the current 196 million people affected to 288 million by 2040.

Do injections work for wet macular degeneration?

When AMD has progressed to the “wet” phase, anti-VEGF injections can preserve remaining vision by reducing fluid leakage and bleeding from the macular blood vessels.

Are You Susceptible To Vision Loss?

Ask Our Eye Doctor in York, Ontario, how To Prevent Vision Loss

Vision loss is more common than you may think! In fact, it’s among the most prevalent disabilities in adults and children. Knowing what puts you at risk of developing vision loss is important and can help you to be proactive about caring for your eyes.

Below, we’ll explore the most common causes of vision loss and the risk factors associated with each.

Spreading awareness and education about visual health is just one way that our eye doctors near you can help. To schedule your Comprehensive eye exam, call us today 833-289-1611.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases caused by a buildup of pressure within the eye. Too much inner-eye pressure can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss.

Since symptoms don’t usually manifest in the early stages of glaucoma, getting regular eye exams is all the more crucial. Advanced or rapidly progressing glaucoma can show a variety of symptoms, such as blurred vision, headache, severe eye pain and redness, seeing halos around lights, and nausea.

Risk factors for developing glaucoma include:

  • Being 60 years or older
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • African, Asian, or Hispanic descent
  • High myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Previous eye injury or certain eye surgeries
  • Certain medications, like corticosteroids
  • Thin corneas
  • Certain medical conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and sickle-cell anemia

Cataracts

Cataracts occur when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy. A healthy lens is clear and allows light to pass through it undisturbed.

Common cataract symptoms include cloudy or blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night, light sensitivity, double vision in the affected eye, and seeing colors as faded or yellowish.

Risk factors for developing cataracts include:

  • Aging
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Previous eye surgery, injury, or inflammation
  • Alcoholism
  • Extended use of corticosteroids

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over the age of 60. It occurs when the macula (the small central portion of the retina, which is responsible for sharp, colorful, central vision) begins to wear down.

Early stages of AMD usually go unnoticed, but later stages of the disease can produce symptoms like blurred vision, dark or blurry areas in your central vision, and problems with color perception.

There’s not yet a cure for AMD, but certain treatments can help prevent vision loss.

Risk factors for developing AMD include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Aging
  • Long-term sun exposure
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Family history of AMD
  • Light-colored eyes
  • Farsightedness

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a complication of Type 1 or 2 diabetes that affects the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye called the retina.

Initially, diabetic retinopathy shows no symptoms but can eventually lead to blindness. As it develops, it can cause increased floaters, impaired color vision, dark spots in your visual field, and blurred vision.

Risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Length of time from diabetes diagnosis — the longer you’ve had it, the higher your chances of developing visual complications
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol or blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • African American, Hispanic, and Native American ethnicities
  • Family history of DR

So, what’s the bottom line?

Multiple factors contribute to eye disease and vision loss, and some may even be relevant to you. If you think you may be at risk for vision loss or experience any of the symptoms listed above, speak with your eye doctor in Mt. Dennis as soon as possible. We also recommend you have your eyes thoroughly examined every 1-2 years, or as often as your eye doctor recommends. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call Northwestern Eye Associates today.

Book an eye exam at an eye clinic near you to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you.

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Can blindness be prevented?

When caught early, many eye diseases can be treated to halt or slow the progression of the disease and potentially prevent vision loss. The best things you can do to preserve your vision for the long term is to lead a healthy lifestyle and make sure you undergo a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years.

Which eye diseases are genetically inherited?

More than 350 ocular diseases have some sort of genetic component. Certain diseases, like retinitis pigmentosa and albinism, are directly inherited through chromosomal information. In other cases, a predisposition to the disease is inherited, rather than the disease itself.