Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness, particularly in individuals over 50. AMD causes vision issues when a specific part of your retina, the macula, is damaged.
The macula is the part of your eye that helps with central vision. If it’s damaged, it becomes hard to see anything directly in front of you.
February is AMD Awareness Month, and in the spirit of spreading awareness about this particular eye disease, our team here at Maryland Eye Care Center created this guide to shed light on the risk factors of AMD and what you can do if you spot the signs of it.
Risk factors of AMD
As the name suggests, AMD is related to age. Specifically, people over 50 are more at risk of developing AMD because parts of your macula can get thinner as you age.
Additionally, small clumps of drusen 一 a type of protein also related to age 一 form and may contribute to blurred central vision. This type of AMD, the most common, is called dry AMD. Wet AMD, the other type of AMD, results from abnormal blood vessels forming in your retina.
Age isn’t the only risk factor for developing AMD. Other risk factors include:
- Eating a diet high in saturated fat
- Being overweight or obese
- Being diagnosed with hypertension or high cholesterol
- Having a family history of AMD
- Having heart disease
- Being Caucasian
Having some of these risk factors doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to develop AMD. The opposite is also true: You may develop AMD even if you don’t have these risk factors. If you have any concerns about your vision, don’t hesitate to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.
Reducing your risk factors
You can’t control all of the above risk factors, but there are some you can. If you smoke, consider a smoking cessation program, and exercise regularly.
Also, eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables (especially dark leafy greens), lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. If your diet is high in saturated fats, consider swapping in healthier fat sources.
If you have any underlying conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension, that may impact your eye health, work with your health care provider to manage those conditions.
What if you already have AMD?
AMD can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam, but treatment may depend on your stage of AMD. According to the National Eye Institute, there isn’t a cure for early-stage AMD, but adopting healthy practices can help support your vision.
Other potential treatments to help slow the progression of AMD include:
- Special dietary supplements
- Anti-VEGF drugs (wet AMD)
- Photodynamic therapy (wet AMD)
Celebrate AMD Awareness Month by pledging to adopt an eye-healthy habit this month. Maybe add vision-healthy smoothies to your diet, schedule an annual eye exam, or share information about AMD with a loved one who may be at risk.
Questions? Give us a call at the location of your choice 一 Hyattsville or Silver Spring, Maryland, 一 or use our online booking tool to schedule your appointment today.