Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a serious condition that affects almost two million Americans. The leading cause of vision loss and blindness among Americans over age sixty-five, it usually causes a slow, painless loss of vision, due to the degeneration of the macula. Age-related macular degeneration treatment has vastly improved in recent years, but there is still no cure, and while it cannot be prevented, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. Here, Dr. Gary Tylock, a pioneering Dallas LASIK surgeon, discusses causes, treatments, and risk reduction for age-related macular degeneration.
There are two different variations of this condition. Wet age-related macular degeneration involves the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina, which then leak blood and fluid, while dry age-related macular degeneration results from aging and thinning of macular tissues. The wet variation is less common than the dry, but causes more serious vision loss. Unfortunately, there is no dry macular degeneration treatment approved by the FDA. Wet macular degeneration treatment attempts to stop abnormal blood vessel growth using various FDA-approved drugs, and photodynamic therapy.
As the name implies, aging is the primary cause of age-related macular degeneration, but several factors increase the likelihood that you may develop the condition.
• Being a white female with light eyes puts you at higher risk for age-related macular degeneration. Obviously, there is nothing you can do about this, but if you fall into this category it is even more important that you take preventive measures to reduce your risk.
• Obesity and inactivity play a role, as well. In fact, overweight patients with AMD are about twice as likely to develop an advanced form of the condition.
• High blood pressure is terrible for your eyes. A recent European study found a significant link between high blood pressure and age-related macular degeneration.
• Age-related macular degeneration can be a side effect of certain medications. Especially if your risk factors are high in other areas, discuss the risks of prescribed medications with your doctor.
• Like many other conditions, AMD runs in families. Sadly, heredity is a factor, but you can give your genes a hand by taking measures to reduce your other risks.
The following measures may be helpful in reducing your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration:
• Having eye exams on a regular basis is very important. Early detection can often help delay the loss of vision, so visit your eye doctor regularly.
• Take vitamins! Eating a nutritious diet can help ward off age-related macular degeneration, particularly when you make a point to consume nuts, fish, fruits and vegetables. Supplements can be helpful, too. For macular degeneration, vitamins and minerals that are recommended include C, E, beta carotene, zinc, and copper. Avoid foods that are high in fat and cholesterol, and limit your consumption of red meat.
• Do not smoke. If you are a smoker, quit! Smoking doubles the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, and the sooner you quit, the sooner you begin to lower that risk.
• Maintain a healthy weight, and get plenty of exercise. It is amazing how many conditions can be prevented or controlled through diet and exercise! Vigorous exercise, three times a week, can have a tremendous impact on your health.
• Wear sunglasses. This advice cannot be stressed enough. Protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays will help to keep them healthy throughout your lifetime.
Of course, one of the best things you can do to fight age-related macular degeneration is to find the right doctor. Dr. Gary Tylock, of Tylock-George Eye Care and Laser Center has over twenty- five years of experience, and his dedicated staff uses the latest technology to provide excellent patient care. For more information, visit the Tylock website, or connect with the online community on Facebook and Twitter.