Macular degeneration is a very common eye disorder, particularly amongst people over the age of 50. Macular degeneration occurs as a result of the thinning of an area of the retina at the back of the eye called the macula. The macular is responsible for central vision, enabling us to see fine detail such as facial features or words on a page. However, over time, the cells of the macular can start to deteriorate. When this happens, it can cause areas of distortion in your central vision and even blind spots that can compromise your day to day activities and quality of life.
The good news is that there are things that can be done to help prevent macular degeneration and maintain your long-term eye health and vision.
Since there is currently no cure for macular degeneration, it is in all of our best interests to prevent it or at least slow its development as much as possible. Fortunately, there are steps that we can take to do just that.
Our overall health relies on us receiving the necessary vitamins and minerals and our eyes are no exception. As with every other body system, there are specific vitamins that are particularly beneficial for our eye health and, subsequently, our long-term vision. Some of those which have been proven to be especially effective at maintaining healthy eyes and vision are vitamin C, and E and micronutrients zinc and lutein. The AREDS 2 vitamin protocol has been studied for over 20 years now by the National Institute of Health and others.
Lifestyle plays a huge role in our health and wellness, and our eye health is no exception. Studies have discovered that patients who lead unhealthy lifestyles are actually more likely to go on to develop serious eye conditions in the future. Quitting smoking is regularly cited as one of the single more important things that you could do to prevent macular degeneration. You should also maintain an active lifestyle (walking, cycling, swimming it doesn’t matter so long as you are doing some physical activity. This will help improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, keeping them within healthy ranges. This is important since some research has suggested that controlling these may also reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration.
Although not all types of macular degeneration run in families, there are specific genes that have been strongly associated with an increased risk of developing the condition. Therefore, if you have an immediate family who has previously or currently suffer from macular degeneration, it is in your best interest to do everything possible to protect your eyes.
Most people know that the sun can cause damage to their eyes. However, you may be surprised to learn that it is the blue wavelengths of light energy from the sun that damage the macula, rather than the UV rays. Nevertheless, any sort of prolonged or accumulative sunlight can cause irreparable damage to the surface and inner structures of the eye. Using appropriate protective eyewear is recommended from an early age.
Your eye doctor is able to monitor the health and condition of your eyes so that any early signs of macular degeneration – or any other eye diseases – are detected early. This gives you the best chance to treat/delay their effects and will help you to preserve your vision for longer.
For more information about macular degeneration or tips on how to prevent it, please contact Eastside Eye Physician's dedicated and knowledgeable team.