Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of age related blindness, affecting an estimated 80,000 people in Ireland. AMD is a disease that blurs the sharp, central vision you need for ‘straight ahead’ activities such as reading, sewing and driving. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows your to see fine detail. AMD causes no pain. In some people, AMD advices so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. As AMD progresses, a blurred area near the centre of vision is a common symptom.
RISK FACTORS FOR AMD:
- Increasing age
- Family History
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Over Exposure to Sunlight – it is important to wear sunglasses that provide 100% UVA/UVB protection
- Poor Diet
Currently no treatment exists for early AMD which in many people shows no symptoms or loss of vision. Researchers of the National Eye Institute found that a daily intake of certain high dose vitamins and minerals may slow the progression of the disease in people who have late AMD in one eye.
10 FOODS FOR EYE HEALTH:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Fish Oils
There are numerous ocular vitamin supplements available from your optometrist or pharmacist. Examples include MacuShield, Nutrof Total, Lagad Lacrima and Omega Eye.
AMD occurs less often in people who exercise, avoid smoking and eat nutritious foods including green leafy vegetables and fish. These good habits may help preserve your vision for longer.
There are two types of AMD – dry and wet (neovascular AMD). The latter typically results in severe vision loss. There are different therapies that are available (photodynamic and laser) that may slow the progression. However, the condition may progress even with treatments.
There are a wide range of low vision aid devices available such as handheld or video magnifiers, specialised computer aids and other technologies using cameras and televisions to enlarge printed text and help the person affected to continue to have enhanced quality of life and continued mobility and independence.
PROTECT YOUR EYES
We protect our skin from the harmful rays of the sun however we often neglect our eyes. UV rays are as dangerous to our eyes as they are to our skin. Ultraviolet radiation can cause serious damage to our eyes. Studies show that prolonged exposure to UV rays may cause AMD.
AMD has few symptoms in the early stages, so it is important to have your eyes examined regularly. If you are at risk for AMD because of age, family history, lifestyle, or some combination of these factors, you should not wait to experience changes in vision before getting checked for AMD.
Your optometrist is the first port of call for all eye care problems. Below are a few questions you may want to ask your eye care professional to help you understand your diagnosis and treatment:
- What is my diagnosis?
- Can my AMD be treated?
- How will this condition affect my vision now and in the future?
- What symptoms should I watch for and how should I notify you if they occur?
- Should I make lifestyle changes?
For more information visit, Optique Opticians, Level One, 18 Briarhill Shopping Centre, Ballybrit, Galway. Tel: 091 386 669 Visit: www.optique.ie
Elaine O’Sullivan F.A.O.I. Optometrist