What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration (also called age-related macular degeneration or AMD) is a condition in which the eye’s macula breaks down, causing a gradual or sometimes sudden loss of central vision.  Oxidative stress and inflammation are thought to be the underlying causes of age-related macular degeneration.


Why do I have AMD?

Risk factors for AMD include obesity, smoking, hypertension, and a diet low in green leafy vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids.  Additionally, stress, genetics and a family history of AMD, along with aging – all may play a role in the increased incidence of this progressive condition.


What can be done for AMD?

Stay physically active and choose a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fish.  Avoid foods that raise your blood sugar and highly processed foods.  The Mediterranean Diet has been studied in AMD and may reduce the risk of further vision loss due to the increased consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.  Maintain your blood pressure in the normal range and protect your eyes from overexposure to the sun by wearing sunglasses and hats.

While the Mediterranean Diet is beneficial for preventing and slowing the progression of the disease, research has shown that supplementation with antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin, resveratrol, omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, and the mineral zinc provide the same outcome.  Other nutrients like Vitamins A, C, D, and E also support overall eye health.


What are the signs of macular degeneration?

Early signs of macular degeneration include: night vision issues, blurred or fuzzy vision, straight lines that appear wavy, and shadowy areas in your central vision.  Regular eye exams may mean an earlier diagnosis as your eye doctor may find indicators before you exhibit any symptoms.  The Amsler Grid Test may be used to detect signs of macular degeneration.  Talk with your eye doctor if you have any concerns or experience symptoms mentioned.


What are the different types of macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is classified as either dry or wet. The dry form is more common than the wet (about 90 percent of patients). It may result from the aging and thinning of macular tissues, depositing of pigment in the macula or a combination of the two.

In the wet form, new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes retinal cells to die and creates blind spots in central vision.