Age related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in America and many other developed countries, refers to the progressive weakening and deterioration of the macula, a tiny area located in the center of the retina that is used for precise vision. Even though the macula provides such a small fraction of the visual field, almost half of the visual cortex is devoted to processing macular information. When the disease progresses, either in dry form or the more severe but less common wet form, there is significant vision loss in the centre of the field of vision, making it impossible for the individual to accomplish such tasks as driving, reading or readily identifying faces. However, enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life. The drop in quality of life, However, remains considerable.
While AMD is an alarming reality for many older people, modifiable risk factors can begin, as so often, in early adulthood, Worldwide 10% of people over 65 have AMD and this increases to 30% in the over 75s. However, double or triple that amount have intermediate symptoms causing inconvenience or disruption to everyday living. Although steps can be taken to control its progress and severity, once established AMd cannot be reverses, the key, therefore, is do what you can to decrease the chances of contracting it in the first instance.
Taking the time to learn how you can protect your vision is the most effective first step to making sure your eyesight is protected as much as possible for as long as possible. As women are more susceptible, they should take special note, as should white people who are more prone to AMd than other races.
• If you are over 45 years of age or if you have a family history of this condition, the most effective preventative measure is to schedule regular eye examinations.
• If you smoke, quit. Smoking nearly trebles your chance of macular degeneration.
• If you ‘re eating fast food / junk food, substitute with a plant-based diet and plenty of fish or shellfish not only to get your weight down, but to furnish your body with plenty of antioxidants and zinc to combat drusens, those precursors in the eye to full macular degeneration.