Happy Fourth of July! It is a great time of year to celebrate warm weather and American Independence. Band concerts, family gatherings, and firework displays make the holiday enjoyable. However, if your vision is restricted by eye disease it may make it difficult to see the best part of these celebrations – the faces of the ones you love. We want you to know about one eye disease in particular because it is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States. That disease is age related macular degeneration (AMD).
What is AMD?
AMD is a progressive disease with no known cure. It slowly steals vision as it affects the retina, a paper-thin tissue lining the back of the eye, and causes the cells in the area to die. As a result, if you have AMD, you see blind spots, grayness and other distortions in the center frame of your vision.
AMD is the leading cause of low vision and blindness in Americans age 60 years and older. Currently it affects 1,600,000 Americans. Experts say that as the Baby Boomer generation ages, the rates of AMD will reach “epidemic proportions”. However, education and information can empower you to maintain strong, healthy vision in order to reduce your risk and slow progression of the disease.
How can I reduce my risk?
It is possible to reduce your risk and slow the progression of AMD by protecting your vision. Knowing if you are at risk is the first step. The risk factors for AMD are:
• Age: The majority of people with AMD are aged 55 or older.
• Genetics: People with a family history of AMD are at a higher risk.
• Race: Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease than African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
• Smoking: Smoking doubles the risk of AMD.
What can you do to decrease your risk?
Living a healthy lifestyle is the best thing you can do to reduce your risk of AMD. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation recommends that you take the following steps:
- Do not smoke.
- Eat healthy foods: Green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collard greens, and fresh fruit. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids at least once or twice a week, like salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and albacore tuna.
- Avoid processed snack foods such as cakes, cookies, potato chips, candy, and soft drinks. Read more about why junk food is bad for eye health.
- Avoid partially hydrogenated fats such as coconut or palm oils. Use olive, canola, or flaxseed oil in moderation.
- Maintain normal blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise. Walk half an hour every day, or participate in more strenuous activities if possible, like yoga, aerobic activities, or sports.
- Wear sunglasses and a hat with a visor in bright sunlight to protect your eyes from potentially harmful ultra-violet (UV) light and blue light.
Can AMD be treated?
AMD cannot be treated in the classic clinical sense, meaning it cannot be cured. However, the low vision it causes can be enhanced quite effectively. We help patients with AMD to see more clearly using a variety of innovative devices, including some of the latest cutting-edge wearable technology.
If you have been told that nothing more can be done for the low vision caused by your AMD, see us. We prove every day that low vision can be enhanced and you can fully participate in the activities of daily life and see the faces of the ones you love.