Macular Degeneration or Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a disease resulting in damage to the macula region of the retina. The eye disease is caused by the deterioration of the macula, which is the part of the eye that’s responsible for sharp, detailed vision. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss among adults over the age of 50 in the United States. More than 10 million Americans are affected by AMD.
Your eyes use the macula to focus on fine details when you read a book, drive a car, facial recognition, differentiating between colors and more. With age, the sensitive cells in the macula begin in some people begin to deteriorate, which impacts your central vision. While you may not notice vision loss during the early stages of macular degeneration, patients typically experience wavy or blurred vision as the disease gets worse over time.
The risk of developing AMD increases with age and there is clearly a genetic component but there are other risk factors for this disease including smoking, Caucasian race, heart disease, high cholesterol.
There are two types of AMD: Dry (Atrophic) and Wet (neovascular). AMD always starts as the dry form but can progress to the wet form in some people which is more severe and urgent. The early stages of the dry form may only cause minor changes in your vision emphasizing the importance of regularly scheduled eye exams with an ophthalmologist if you are over the age of 50 and particularly if you have a family history of AMD.
While there is no cure for macular degeneration, treatment is available to help slow the progression of the disease and prevent severe vision loss. The National Eye Institute has sponsored a multiyear study called the Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS 1 and 2) that has shown that high dose anti-oxidant vitamins and zinc can slow the progression of AMD.
- Vitamin C (500 mg)
- Vitamin E (400 IU)
- Lutein (10 mg)
- Zeaxanthin (2 mg)
- Zinc (80 mg)
- Copper (2 mg)
This formula can be purchased at any drugstore. Look for the AREDS 2 formula as this is the updated version of AREDS 1. Unfortunately vitamins do not prevent the onset of AMD and only help once the disease has started. Also, there are a number of other supplements that are advertised to “prevent” or slow the progression of AMD but none of these formulas, herbal remedies or supplements has been studied to the extent that AREDS 2 has. It would be in your best interest to stay away from these and just take the AREDS 2 formula. There are some other things you can do to prevent the onset of severe AMD including eating a healthy diet high in green leafy vegetables (Kale, spinich etc.) and deep yellow, orange or red colored fruits and vegetables. Stop smoking if you are a current smoker and wear sunglasses when outdoors that block ultraviolet A and B waves.