February is Age-related Macular Degeneration/Low Vision Awareness month. Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss among elderly people. It is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision.You need clear central vision for many tasks, such as reading, driving, and recognizing faces.
There are two main types of ARMD, dry and wet. 90% of those diagnosed with ARMD have the dry type, which is associated with slow, progressive visual loss occurring over decades. Wet ARMD is associated with rapid visual loss, occurring over months. Symptoms include difficulty seeing in dim light, blurry vision, and a blurred or blind spot in the center of your field of vision.
How do you get ARMD? The exact cause is unknown, but we do know that it involves both genetic and lifestyle factors. ARMD increases with age, a family history of the disease, and is more common in light-skinned and light-eyed people. Risk factors for developing ARMD are smoking, obesity, and high exposure to sunlight.
Here in Florida, we are exposed to higher amounts of sunlight, so help prevent ARMD by following these steps:
- Have routine eye exams. See your eye doctor for a dilated eye exam.
- Don’t smoke. If you’re a smoker, discuss quitting with your doctor.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, which have high levels of antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin is available as a supplement.
- Eat omega-3 fatty acids, found in nuts, fish, or a fish oil supplement.
- Take a daily multivitamin, unless your doctor advises otherwise.
- Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
- Wear sunglasses.
Photo “Eye Examination Stock Photo” by Marin provided by freedigitalphotos.net