AMD is a progressive disease of the eye characterised by death or dysfunction of photoreceptors.
The macular is an oval-shaped spot at the central part of the back of the retina. The macular controls what we call, ‘’STRAIGHT-AHEAD VISION’’. This is the ability to make sense of what we see, and interpret it into details, like colour, shape and sizes.
In Age-Related Macular Degeneration, this blind spot gradually gets bigger and bigger, until you start losing the central vision. The loss of the central vision naturally affects the details of the object seen. It is possible to be able to see clearly by the side vision (Peripheral vision).
Two Types Of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
There are two types of Age-Related Macular Degeneration, the wet and the dry ones.
Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration — is where the layer of the macular gradually wears out by becoming thinner and thinner to the extent that the central vision is compromised. Most people have this.
Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration — is where thin blood vessels start to grow under the macular and then burst leaking blood and fluid, making the macular area wet and bulge, thus preventing a clearer vision. The leakage can cause damage to the retina cells. Wet AMD always starts as a dry one, until it progresses to wet AMD.
Wet AMD is rather aggressive, and will soon affect both eyes. Images are distorted, hazy, blurred and difficult to make sense of.
Although both wet and dry age-related macular degeneration can result in a serious loss of vision, none of them leads to a total vision loss, because the peripheral vision is preserved.
Risk Factors In Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age — just as the name indicated, it affects people over fifty. Although it affects older adult, it NOT a normal part of ageing.
Obesity — still an important health issue. AMD tends to affect older adults who are obese more.
White Ethnicity — Affects more people of white ethnicity than other black minority ethnic group.
Smoking — Smoking limits the body ability to receive essential nutrients, through the blood, especially to those cells in the eyes.
Family history — If you have a family history of age-related macular degeneration, it could pass on to you.
Women — are more likely to have AMD than men. The reason for this is unclear.
Heart disease/High blood pressure — those with heart disease have a higher risk of developing AMD, made worse by incidences of high blood pressure, which can cause wet AMD.
What To Eat To Prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Omega 3 fatty acid — The research on an animal study by Cochrane And Vision Group confirmed the positive effect of omega-3 fatty acids diet on age-related macular degeneration.
A diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids may slow down the chances of getting age-related macular degeneration. Such foods are animal sources, like oily fish like mackerel and salmon. Plant sources are flaxseed and soybean.
Lutein And Zeaxanthin — these two increase the concentration of blood serum, signifying macular pigment density. Higher intake of these two minerals are often found in Black Minority Ethnic Group liver, and they, therefore, have a very low incidence of age-related macular degeneration.
Food sources include among others, green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, lettuce, Brussel sprout, broccoli, and egg yolk.
Zinc — is usually given to the elderly to boost their immunity, however recent studies on the role of zinc positively reduce the incidence of age-related macular degeneration and other progressive eye diseases but not a cataract.
Food sources of zinc are seafood, wholegrain, chickpeas, almonds and cashews, baked beans and most fortified breakfast cereals.
Vitamin E, C & Beta-Carotene— diets rich in vitamins A, C and beta-carotene do help in preventing early onset of age-related macular degeneration.
Foods rich in vitamins, E, C & Beta-Carotene — are avocados, citrus fruits, like red bell peppers, cherries, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, apricots and carrots.
How Your Life Could Be Affected By AMD
Not being able to drive — This is because the vision is impaired, and will, therefore, be dangerous to drive.
Not Able To Read Without A Magnifier — The central vision is compromised, so you will need a magnifier to be able to read objects placed centrally placed to you.
Certain Sports Are Out — especially those that need precision like tennis etc, but there are countless others that you can do.
Not Able To Recognise People — but as in all things, vision loss is usually compensated by voice recognition. So you just ask them to speak first to you, so you know who you are dealing with.
Vision Loss — can sometimes be depressive, especially to those that are in denial. And family members, close friends and colleagues can behave in such an emotional way to make you depressed further.