Did you know that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the primary causes of vision loss in people over the age of 60? In fact, 1 in 4 Canadians may develop macular degeneration in their lifetime, compared to only 1 in 10 who may develop glaucoma. The reality is that most people have never even heard of macular degeneration, let alone know whether they are at risk.
Like many other eye diseases, macular degeneration is a slow painless process that tends to occur over a number of years, with very few warning signs. In fact, macular degeneration can only be diagnosed after a thorough comprehensive eye exam conducted by an eye doctor.
Macular degeneration affects the central portion of the retina, or the area of the eye responsible for fine detailed visual tasks like reading or driving. Patients often initially complain of blurred vision, or a spot in their line of sight. But the reality is that most patients experience no problems in mild and even moderate cases of macular degeneration.
Currently, there is no pill or vitamin supplement that can guarantee that you won’t develop macular degeneration and certain risk factors may be out of your control.
Risks that are out of your control
Age – AMD increase with age
Race – Caucasians are at a greater risk then African Americans
Family History – Higher risk of developing late stage AMD
Gender – Females are more likely to develop AMD then men
Eye Colour – Blue or light colour irises
However, there are still some risk factors that you do have control over, that play an equal role in the potential development of macular degeneration.
Risks that you can control
Smoking – Just quit
Heart Disease – Watch your blood pressure and cholesterol
Exercise – Regular exercise
Weight – Obesity increases your risks
Diet – Eat a diet high in green leafy vegetables and fish
Sunglasses – Sunglasses help to reduce harmful UV light exposure
Eye Exams – Book an annual eye exam with an eye doctor