An eye disease that goes by many names, age related macular degeneration – also known as macular degeneration, MDR, ARMD – can sound complicated and scary. But stay with us because we’ve had our team of experts researching the topic and can finally give you the info you need. Hang tight, we’ll get through it together.
What is a macular?
The macular is a small area located in the center of our retina, responsible for producing the image we see directly in front of us. It’s also crucial to our appreciation of colors and the level of vision we need to carry out detailed activities. Along with these important functions, visual acuity is essential to many tasks in our daily lives, including reading and writing. You can see it’s important (pardon the pun), so we need to take care of our macular in order to keep on seeing.
What is macular degeneration?
Now we know what the macular is and what it’s for, we need to understand what happens when it’s impacted in a negative way. If the cells of the macular start to deteriorate, symptoms can include drastic loss of sight, detail and/or color recognition. This commonly manifests as a blurred patch or dark spot in the center of our field of vision. It’s no surprise then that macular degeneration can have a monumental effect on our sight, and change our lives forever.
There are two types or stages of macular degeneration: wet and dry. This might sound a bit odd, so let me explain the difference to make things even more clear.
Dry macular degeneration
Accounting for 80%-95% of all AMD, dry macular degeneration occurs at the early stage of the degenerative disease. As the macular gets thinner and older, deposits from the deteriorating tissues are left on the macular. Central vision loss is gradual and increases over time.
Wet macular degeneration
This is the later stage of the condition, where new blood vessels grow beneath the macular and leak blood and fluid. This causes permanent damage to our eyes and vision. The retinal cells die off and never recover, causing blind spots in our sight.
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Causes of macular degeneration
The causes of the condition are currently unknown but it’s believed that a combination of factors from both our DNA and the environment are involved. Unfortunately, unlike other eye diseases such as glaucoma or cataracts, there’s no cure for it. The best thing we can do is to schedule regular checkups with your eye doctor so age related macular degeneration can be detected early on and you can be armed with the knowledge as soon as it starts to affect you.
How to Prevent Macular Degeneration
Although no specific cause to AMD has been identified, there are certain steps we can take to ensure our health is at its best, giving us a fighting chance against macular degeneration. So, without further ado, here are Tom’s Top Tips to preventing macular degeneration (and being healthy in general!)
Stop Smoking: apart from being incredibly unhealthy in general, smoking effects our cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, both of which are essential to the health of all our cells – including the macular!
Cut back on alcohol consumption: overdoing it with your favorite tipple can also affect the health of your body cells. Long term effects of excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact eyesight, so keep it within a safe limit and enjoy your drink responsibly.
Maintain a healthy weight and body composition: excess body fat can negatively contribute to a whole range of medical conditions. AMD is more likely to progress faster if you’re overweight and the bigger your waist, the higher your risk of vision loss. Exercise more and don’t over eat to keep your sight in tip top condition.
Eat your veggies: not only will this help with keeping your weight in check but leafy greens such as kale, spinach and watercress contain lutein (…keep on reading to find out more)
Can lutein help with Macular Degeneration?
Studies have show that lutein can slow down the rate of age related macular degeneration by 25%. That’s great news if ARMD is a concern to you. Upping your lutein consumption is as easy as adding more leafy greens to your diet or taking a lutein supplement. As ever, we advise you to consult your doctor before changing any aspect of your life to improve your sight, but lutein could be the vitamin for you.
If you still have any questions or concerns about age related macular degeneration, your doctor should be able to talk to you about it or at least point you in the direction of someone who can. Sometimes the condition is unavoidable but if we all share the facts, raise awareness and get the conversation going, we can minimize the impact it may have on our lives.
Mind those maculars,