Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of visual impairment in the UK, affecting up to 500,000 people to some degree (according to the NHS). It’s important to learn more about it and understand the risk factors, so that you can take measures to reduce your chances of developing the condition.
The macula is an oval, yellow spot near the centre of the retina. Input from the macula is responsible for a large percentage of the brain’s visual capacity, and therefore it is largely responsible for our vision. The macula also acts as a natural sunblock by absorbing the excess blue and ultraviolet light that enters the eye. AMD is a painless eye condition that leads to loss of central vision. Usually it’s a slow deterioration where your central vision (what is directly in front of you) gets increasingly blurred. Age and genetics play an important role in determining whether you will be affected by AMD. Excessive exposure to UV rays can also lead to macular degeneration, as can high levels of dietary fat.
Symptoms of AMD include:
- Difficulty in reading, as text appears blurry
- Difficulty in recognising people’s faces
- Colours appearing less vibrant
- Seeing blind spots in your field of vision
AMD can be of two types:
- Dry AMD – this is what affects 90% of the cases and is a gradual process of vision impairment. It is caused when the macula becomes damaged due to the build-up of waste products, called drusen.
- Wet AMD – this is the more serious form, which develops when abnormal blood vessels form under the macula and damage its cells. Vision can deteriorate within a few days and there’s no treatment available for it at present.
It is not exactly clear what triggers the process of macular degeneration. Also there are inherent risk factors such as age and family history that come into play. However, there are some things that you can do to reduce your risk of AMD.
- Stop smoking
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits & vegetables, especially green leafy veggies
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Exercise and maintain a healthy body weight
- When outdoors, protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with adequate UV protection. Choose sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA & UVB rays
It’s quite possible that you may not be aware that you have AMD, as the deterioration is usually a slow process. The best way to determine your eye health is to go for an eye examination on a regular basis. Simply book an eye test online with Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care and we will take care of the rest. Our friendly and trained optometrists will put you at ease and conduct a thorough lifestyle evaluation before beginning with the eye test. Our eye examinations are comprehensive and take about 30 minutes. Your eye test will help us gauge your ocular health and we will be able advise to you on best corrective and preventive measures. We have a range of designer glasses to choose from as well as contact lenses from the leading brands in the world. So drop in at one of our stores or call us on 0800 40 20 20.
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