There are many ways to maintain good eyesight well into your golden years. But as we age, we become more at risk of certain eye diseases. Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is a progressive eye problem and a primary cause of vision loss in elders aged 50 and over. If you are like many people, you probably haven’t heard of this disease before. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with AMD, read on to learn more about how it affects our vision.
What is AMD?
AMD impairs the macula, a tiny area near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead. This eye problem affects as many as 15 million Americans, making it difficult for them to identify faces, drive, safely navigate the stairs, and perform their daily activities.
In some people, the disease develops gradually that vision loss does not occur for many years. In others, AMD advances more rapidly and may lead to vision loss in one or both eyes. As the damage progresses, a blurred space near the center of vision is a common symptom. Over time, this hazy spot may grow larger and blank spots may surface. Objects will start to appear darker until they become dim images or black holes at the center of sight.
The macula contains millions of light-sensing cells that give a clear, central vision. It helps the retina turn light into electrical signals, which our brain then interprets as an image. As AMD damages the macula, your central field of view may appear distorted, dark, or blurry. The condition by itself, however, does not lead to complete blindness. Yet it can hurt your eyesight so badly that doing simple everyday tasks like cooking or reading will become more challenging.
How To Prevent AMD
Some lifestyle changes can help protect the macula from the damage of AMD. While you cannot always prevent the growth of the disease, there are still ways to slow down its development and maintain good vision.
- Exercise regularly – Studies show that regular exercise may reduce the risk of eye diseases like wet age-related macular degeneration. Although working out may not affect your eyesight directly, it can help with other health issues like diabetes that causes damage to the retina.
- Choose whole foods – Stay away from extremely processed foods and choose a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
- Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels – Hypertension is one of the leading causes of various eye diseases. Be sure to monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Faithfully take your high blood pressure medications as prescribed and see your doctor regularly for follow-up care.
As with any eye-related concern, the most important step you can take is to visit an eye specialist. Getting a comprehensive eye exam is ideal if you are experiencing symptoms of AMD. This is an essential component of eye disease prevention that can also provide an insightful information on your overall health.