Preventing Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that occurs when tissue in the macula deteriorates.
The retina is the layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eye. This disease can be serious as the part of your retina that’s responsible for central vision is damaged.
It may cause blurred central vision or a blind spot in the center of your visual field, or worse.
The first sign of macular degeneration may be a need for more light when your concentrating on things close to the eye. Fine newsprint may become harder to read and street signs more difficult to recognize.
Eventually, straight lines may appear distorted or crooked. Gray or blank spots may mask the center of your visual field. The condition poses the threat of progressing rapidly, thus leading to severe vision loss in one or both eyes, but usually develops gradually.
Macular degeneration affects your central vision, but not your peripheral vision. This means that it doesn’t cause total blindness.
Still, the loss of clear central vision, which is critical for reading, driving, recognizing people’s faces and doing detail work, greatly affects your quality of life.
It is common that the damage caused by macular degeneration can’t be reversed, although early detection may help reduce the extent of vision loss.
Macular degeneration tends to get worse with age, which is why as an older adult has a greater risk of developing this disease.
It is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people age 60 and older, and more than 1.6 million American adults have the advanced form of age-related macular degeneration.
Signs and Symptoms
Macular degeneration usually develops gradually and painlessly. Depending on which of the two types of macular degeneration you have, the signs and symptoms of the disease may vary.
With dry macular degeneration you may notice the following symptoms:
- The need for increasingly bright illumination when reading or doing close work.
- Increasing difficulty adapting to low levels of illumination, such as when entering a dimly lit restaurant.
- Printed words that appear to be increasingly blurry.
- Colors that appear to be less bright.
- Difficulty recognizing faces.
- Gradual increase in the haziness of your overall vision.
- Blurred or blind spot in the center of your visual field combined with profound drop in your central vision acuity.
- A need to scan your eyes all around an object to provide a more complete image.
With wet macular degeneration, the following symptoms may appear and may progress rapidly:
- Visual distortions, such as straight lines appearing wavy or crooked, a doorway or street sign that seems out of whack or objects appearing smaller or farther away that they should.
- Decrease in or loss of central vision.
- Central blurry spot.
Your vision may falter in one eye while the other remains fine for years in either form of macular degeneration.
You may not notice any or much change because your good eye compensates for the weak one. It is when this condition develops in both eyes that your vision and lifestyle begin to be dramatically affected.
Eat raw foods. A nutritionally balanced diet with plenty of leafy greens, fruits and other vegetables may be among the most important factors in promoting good retinal health.
Eat lots of raw nuts and seeds, as well as foods rich in vitamins A, C and E. People who eat diets rich in vegetables, particularly leafy, green vegetables have a lower risk of macular degeneration.
Although there are no conclusive studies demonstrating that supplements of these nutrients can slow vision loss, high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin are nutrients found in high concentrations in egg yolk, corn and spinach as well as other orange, yellow and green foods.