Are You in Danger of Losing Your Vision? Know These Age-Related Macular Degeneration Risk Factors
Did you know that February 2021 is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month? If you are over the age of 65 and notice your vision starting to fade, there’s a good chance you could be experiencing the onset of age-related macular degeneration.
Eye Medical Center of Fresno has a team of retina specialists available to provide you with a comprehensive eye exam to see if you’re a candidate for this eye disease, which affects approximately 2.1 million people nationally. Read on to find out more about AMD risk factors, and what you can do to protect your eye health.
What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
If there’s one thing you should take away from this article, it’s that it’s never too early to think about age-related vision loss. Knowing the causes of blindness, and what you can do to lower your risk, is the first step. Education along with early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to preventing vision loss.
One of the leading causes of blindness in adults ages 50 and over is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which is a disease that occurs when a part of your retina called the macula is damaged. The macula is what delivers the sharp, central vision needed to see objects straight ahead. Central vision is important to the activities you do every day, including driving, reading, and seeing faces clearly.
These days ophthalmologists have more tools and knowledge than ever to help them diagnose AMD earlier, and to treat it more effectively. But these tools and advancements can only help when patients have been diagnosed with AMD in its early stages—and they take the condition seriously. A recent study shows that most people who are diagnosed with AMD don’t realize it’s a lifelong issue that requires regular attention and treatment.
Reducing your Risk for AMD
Below are risk factors and tips for what you can do to take control of your eye health. Some of them you may already be doing!
1. See your ophthalmologist regularly. There are no early warning signs with AMD, so getting regular comprehensive eye exams from your ophthalmologist is important. It is only through these exams that AMD can be detected and treated in its early stages. Around age 40 is when eye disease or changes in vision can develop, so we recommend adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline screening at this time. By age 65, you should get an exam every one to two years, even if you do not have symptoms or eye problems.
2. Exercise. Exercising three times a week can reduce the risk of developing wet AMD by 70 percent. (There are two types of AMD: wet and dry. Read about the differences in each type here.) Studies show that physical activity may lower the odds of both early and late-stages of AMD, so make sure to get moving.
3. Eat a well-balanced diet. Many studies show that eating a diet complete with fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-rich foods like fresh fish and nuts may reduce the risk of AMD. A diet high in saturated fats, found in foods like cheese, butter, and meat, can contribute to Age-Related Macular Degeneration risk factors, so try to limit these foods.
4. Avoid smoking. If you’re looking for a reason to quit smoking, consider your vision and eye health. Studies have shown that those who smoke have a higher risk of developing macular degeneration, and that the habit increases the speed at which the condition progresses. In addition, smokers are twice as likely to develop AMD compared with a nonsmoker.
5. Check your sight daily using an Amsler Grid. The Amsler Grid is a square with a grid pattern that contains a dot in the middle. It is essential to discovering any vision changes that are not obvious so you can report them to your ophthalmologist. Using the grid for this simple routine takes less than one minute a day, and can help those with AMD save more of their vision.
6. Take the right kind of vitamins. Vitamins can delay the progress of advanced AMD and help you keep your vision longer if you have intermediate AMD or advanced AMD in one eye—but it has to be the right combination of vitamins. A recent study found that some of the top-selling products do not contain identical ingredient dosages to eye vitamin formulas proven effective in clinical trials.
7. Know your family’s eye health history. You have a 50% higher chance of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration if you have a close relative with the condition. Before your next eye exam, speak with your family about their eye health history. Based on your family history, you may need more frequent eye exams and monitoring.
Consult an EMC Retina Specialist Today
We’re pleased to be able to partner with the American Academy of Ophthalmology in educating patients about AMD. “Age-Related Macular Degeneration is a leading cause of visual impairment in the U.S.,” said Sumeer Thinda, M.D., Eye Medical Center of Fresno. “We are fortunate to have effective treatments for this condition, but timely diagnosis is key. A simple dilated eye exam can pick up early signs of this disease and help prevent permanent vision loss.”
Eye Medical Center of Fresno specializes in the treatment of diseases affecting the retina, the vitreous, and the macula. A comprehensive eye exam performed by one of our retina specialists, including Dr. Thinda, can diagnose retinal diseases or conditions, especially if you’ve experienced blurred vision or other symptoms of vision loss. Request an appointment using our online form, or call our office today at (559) 486-5000 to schedule an appointment.