As we age, the fact that we may end up wearing glasses to help us read does not surprise us. Irritating as that may be, the need for reading glasses can be a common result of the wear our eyes experience as they grow older. However, some eyesight changes can denote the onset of a serious condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in adults 50 years and older.1
What is age-related macular degeneration?
AMD is a painless disease that occurs within the macula, the part of your eye that enables sharp, central vision needed for reading, driving, and other tasks that require fine detail. There are two types of AMD and neither type shows symptoms until the disease is fairly progressed. Dry AMD affects eyesight over a period of time while wet AMD causes a rapid loss of central vision and is considered the most severe type of age-related macular degeneration.
Who is at risk for AMD?
- The elderly, but AMD can occur in the middle-aged.
- Those who have a family history of AMD.
- Caucasians are in a higher risk bracket.
- Females are affected more so than males.
- Those who are obese and / or smoke are at a greater risk.
How can AMD affect seniors?
Vision loss not only affects the overall health of an individual, but it can also affect one’s well-being. Because of the lack of acute vision, seniors with AMD are at a higher risk of falls, depression, and mismanagement of medication. Seniors with AMD may also find it difficult to dress, bathe, and cook. With the help of a caregiver, such as a Comfort Keeper®, seniors with AMD can live a fulfilling life in the comfort of their home.
How can you slow the progression of AMD?
There is no cure for AMD, and its onset is unpreventable. However, research shows that some things can be done to help slow the progression of AMD and foster the best eyesight possible for a longer period of time.
- Eat a healthy diet of orange peppers and leafy, green vegetables, fruits, dairy, grain, and legumes. Consume fatty fish at least once per week. Limit caloric intake from added sugar, alcohol and fat.
- Exercise regularly, within your capability.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Do not smoke, and if you do – quit today.
- Have your eyes checked regularly. Early detection is essential in slowing vision loss.
Doctors are now prescribing vitamins and minerals rich in vitamins C and E, carotenoids, selenium and zinc, as a recent U.S. government clinical trial found that high doses of these antioxidants can slow the effects of AMD in its middle stages. Many of these antioxidants can be found in food one should eat every day to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet. Another study showed obesity being a cause of AMD was actually a result of poor diets and lack of physical activity, which is common in the obese.2
The bottom line is this: The healthier we become today has a direct impact on the health we have tomorrow. Eating right, exercising daily and refraining from smoking are things we can begin doing today that can make a difference – and not just in our appearance – but in our overall good health and well-being for years to come.
- National Institute of Health -http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/maculardegeneration.html Also called: Age-related macular degeneration, AMD
- American Health Assistance Foundation (2010). Women who eat healthy diets, exercise and don’t smoke have better vision. http://www.ahaf.org/macular/newsupdates/women-who-eat-healthy-diets.html