February is Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, a time to explore a condition that affects millions worldwide. As you age, your potential for Macular Degeneration increases, so early detection, regular eye care visits, and preventative, health-driven choices are key.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration, often referred to as AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration), is a chronic eye disease that primarily affects the macula—a small but crucial part of the retina responsible for central vision. This condition is more common in individuals over the age of 50, making early awareness and detection essential.
There are two types of Macular Degeneration:
Dry Macular Degeneration:
- Characterized by the gradual breakdown of light-sensitive cells in the macula.
- Yellow deposits, known as drusen, may accumulate under the retina.
Wet Macular Degeneration:
- Less common but more severe form.
- Involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula, leading to leakage and damage.
What are symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
If you are over the age of 50 and notice the following signs or changes in the severity of any of these symptoms, it might be time to see your eye care professional to be assessed for Macular Degeneration:
- Blurred or distorted central vision
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- Straight lines appearing wavy
- Decreased color perception
- Difficulty reading or performing detailed tasks
What are risk factors for Macular Degeneration?
- Family history
- High blood pressure
- UV exposure
Unfortunately, there are many risk factors for AMD that you simply have no control over, including increased age, genetics, and family history.
Macular Degeneration Prevention
Dr. Meagan Anderson of Modern Vision Solutions chooses to focus on the positive and controllable. “When it comes to AMD, some factors you can control include: 1) eating a healthy diet low in saturated fat with lots of leafy-green vegetables, 2) not smoking, 3) wearing proper UV protection, and 4) being diligent about your annual eye exams.”
Your Macular Degeneration Prevention Checklist
Regular Eye Exams:
Early detection through routine eye exams is crucial for effective management. EyeAnalysis Exams from Modern Vision Solutions offer screenings specific to AMD. “Our EyeAnalysis is the most advanced and in-depth eye examination there is,” noted Dr. Anderson. “We perform widefield retinal imaging and optical-coherence tomography (OCT) imaging of the macula which can help us detect even the earliest signs of macular degeneration.”
A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, and zeaxanthin can support eye health. Quit smoking and maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Wear sunglasses that block harmful UV rays to reduce the risk of AMD progression. Modern Vision Solutions can connect you with the right shades, including the latest from Prada, Ray-Ban, Polo and more.
Physical activity supports overall health, including eye health.
Ensuring your health as you age includes acknowledging the potential challenges, such as Macular Degeneration, and taking empowered steps towards prevention. Dr. Anderson and the Modern Vision Solutions team remind us that while some risk factors may be beyond our control, focusing on positive, controllable actions can significantly impact our eye health. Regular eye exams, a healthy lifestyle, UV protection, and exercise form the pillars of a proactive approach to Macular Degeneration. Schedule your EyeAnalysis Exam today!
Dr. Megan Anderson is the lead optometrist at Modern Vision Solutions in Omaha, NE. She completed her Residency in Refractive Surgery and Primary Care and holds a Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Missouri – St. Louis College of Optometry St. Louis, MO. She is a member of the American Optometric Association, American Academy of Optometry, and the Nebraska Optometric Association. Dr. Anderson has had experience in multiple refractive surgery and optometry practices. She has served as a teaching assistant in Clinical Optometry I, II, & III courses. Our patients love her incredible empathy.