We are living longer than previous generations. Each day, approximately 10,000 Americans turn 65. Unfortunately, one in six adults this age and older has a vision impairment, caused by eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD.
AMD is the gradual breakdown of light-sensitive cells in the macula, the part of the retina that affects our central vision. There are two forms of AMD, dry AMD and wet AMD.
Though Macular Degeneration becomes more likely as you get older, you can take two important steps to help prevent AMD or to slow its progression:
- Schedule a comprehensive eye exam at Lighthouse Guild. In addition to testing your vision using an eye chart, your eye doctor will use drops to dilate, or widen, your pupils to examine your retina and optic nerve. If there’s suspicion of early AMD, we may recommend you undergo additional specialized testing. If you are diagnosed with the disease, new treatments are making it more manageable than ever, but early detection is critical.
- Follow healthy lifestyle choices such as:
- Quit smoking
- Eat a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish
- Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Exercise regularly and stay at a healthy weight.
Managing Dry AMD
There is currently no cure for dry AMD, but researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI) have found that taking specific high-dose nutritional supplements every day can slow its progression. These vitamins and minerals include antioxidants, zinc oxide, copper as cupric oxide, folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12.
Check first with all of the doctors who are treating you for any condition to make sure you can safely take these supplements, and which ones are right for you.
Treating Wet AMD
The most common treatment for wet AMD is eye injections. A drug is injected into your eye that can reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels and slow their leakage. This can slow the rate of central vision loss, and in some cases even restore some vision. New formulations are reducing how often you might need to have an injection.
”Hot” laser treatments to destroy the abnormal blood vessels are not as common as in the past, but photodynamic therapy (using a “cold” laser) is sometimes used for eyes that are resistant to other treatments, or in conjunction with eye injections. On a positive note, a great amount of research is currently underway on additional treatment options.
Whether you have dry or wet AMD, it is extremely important to monitor the progression of the disease and any related vision loss: Your eye care professionals at Lighthouse Guild will recommend how often you should get your eyes examined.
Also, stick to the healthy lifestyle tips listed above, which can help prevent AMD.
Lighthouse Guild’s full service Optometric and Low Vision Clinic:
Conveniently located at 15 West 65th Street, New York, NY 10023