What is AMD?
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is an age-related eye illness that can damage your vision. With over 7,000 new cases diagnosed each year, it is the primary cause of central vision loss in Irish people over the age of 50. At the age of 70, 10% of the population has some form of age-related macular degeneration. When the macula breaks down, it causes a gradual loss of vision, resulting in blurring or loss of central vision. Age-related macular degeneration is divided into two types: dry and wet.
Age-related macular degeneration cannot be cured, but early detection and care with a healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition, and specialised supplementation can help to prevent it from worsening.
When you have dry AMD, the cells in your macula slowly stop working normally. It may begin in one or both eyes, then spread to the other. Your vision may deteriorate slowly over time, eventually leading to a loss of central vision which affects your ability to read, drive, and recognise faces.
At the moment there is no cure for dry AMD. However clinical studies have shown that supplementing with carotenoids (MacuPrime) can improve contrast sensitivity, reduce glare disability and slow the progression of the condition.
Wet AMD is less common than dry AMD but it can cause more rapid loss of vision. Wet AMD is caused when the cells in the retina stop working and the eye attempts to correct the damage by developing new blood vessels.
However, these new blood vessels are weak and grow improperly, causing leakage, damage, and scarring at the macula, impairing vision.
It is common for patients to develop the more severe form of wet AMD after first developing dry AMD. AMD can develop in one eye first with no noticeable effects, as the second, good eye, compensates. Often, it is only when the second eye develops symptoms that a problem becomes apparent. This could be too late to treat the first eye. That is why, if you are over 50, it is recommended that you have a full eye check annually.
Wet AMD can be treated using regular Anti-VEGF injections into the eye. One of the contributing factors for wet AMD is a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A). VEGF-A causes new weak blood vessels to grow and leak within the eye, damaging central vision. Anti-VEGF therapies stop further damage to the eye and can even repair some of the damage that has occurred.
What are the symptoms of AMD?
- Straight lines may appear distorted, for example sentences may appear wavy when reading, or lamp posts may seem bent.
- You may see a dark spot in the centre of your vision. This makes seeing people’s faces difficult.
- You may have sensitivity to glare and might find driving at night difficult.
- The vividity of the colours you see may be reduced
Risk factors of AMD:
Age – People over the age of 50 are at risk of developing AMD.
Family History – If AMD runs in your family this also increases your risk of developing it.
Lifestyle – By living a healthy lifestyle not only does it benefit our general health it also decreases our risk of developing AMD.
Smoking – If you are a smoker, please stop. Studies have shown that if you smoke you are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration.
Nutrition – A healthy diet, high in antioxidant vitamins and minerals has long been associated with the prevention or delay of AMD. Good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are eggs and green leafy vegetables, especially spinach.
However, it is really difficult for us to consume Meso-Zeaxanthin through our diet as it is only available in trout.
So now we know the symptoms and risks of AMD, what can we do?
- Get an eye exam every year for early detection of AMD. The earlier AMD is detected the better as we can stop it getting any worse.
- STOP SMOKING!
- Adopt a healthy diet of green leafy vegetables, fruit and fish.
- Boost your daily intake of carotenoids by taking a MacuPrime supplement every day.
- Protect your eyes from sunlight.
- Use an Amsler Grid every day to monitor any changes in your vision.