Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease of the retina. Specifically, AMD affects the part of the retina called the macula, which contains the light-sensitive cells responsible for keeping a person’s central vision sharp and clear. AMD is more prevalent in people over age 60. In fact, it is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in this age group in the US. Fortunately, there are tests you can do. Cape Coral residents can come to Elmquist Eye Group for a macular degeneration test.
What does testing involve?
AMD often has no signs in the early stages. Central vision may gradually decline, and patients simply think that decline is a normal part of aging. It may not be, and eye doctors need to perform a comprehensive dilated eye exam to look inside the eye to examine structures like the macula and retina for signs of disease.
Some of our patients have a family history of AMD, meaning they are genetically predisposed to developing the disease. This is why regular eye exams are so important. Recommendations from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) state that everyone over age 60 should have annual eye exams. Because AMD and other diseases often start earlier, the AAO also recommends eye exams every two or three years for people between the ages of 45 and 60.
What can I do to prevent AMD?
A healthy diet filled with the proper nutrients can really help a person prevent AMD. In particular, dark leafy greens like spinach and kale contain nutrients called carotenoids. These nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, are important for eye health. Research studies have shown that people who consume these vegetables have a significantly lower risk of developing AMD.
You can also eat more fish, which is bountiful here in Florida. Oily fish like salmon are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and studies show that eating two servings per week means you may be much less likely to develop AMD. A diet rich in fruits and nuts can help too, given the vitamins and fatty acids they contain.
If spinach or fish is not “your thing”, you can take a daily multivitamin or a vitamin formulated for eye health. Many people don’t get enough nutrients from diet alone, so these vitamins are important. The following vitamins (and dosages) have been shown to help slow the progression of AMD: copper (2 mg), zinc (80 mg), lutein (10mg), zeaxanthin (2 mg), omega 3 fatty acids (350 mg DHA and 650 mg EPA), beta-carotene (15 mg), vitamin E (400 IU), and vitamin C (500 mg). Look for “AREDS formulated” eye vitamins (there are many brands) that contain these vitamins.
Research has also shown that a diet high in refined carbohydrates can increase your risk of AMD. Foods like white bread, donuts, pretzels and baked potatoes have high glycemic indexes, meaning they cause rapid insulin release and raised blood sugar levels. Lower glycemic foods include multi-grain breads, brown rice and fruits.
AMD is much more prevalent among older adults, particularly those over age 75. Because AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in this age group, you need a trusted eye care team. You can find this at Elmquist Eye Group, where you can come get a macular degeneration test at our Cape Coral location. We want to be your eye care professionals, so give us a call today.