AMD (Age related Macular Degeneration) is a condition that can affect your eyes as you get older. In fact, in the over 50s, AMD the main reason for sight loss, with 7,000 new cases in Ireland every year
AMD affects the macula – a small part of the eye responsible for central vision which allows you to see detail. AMD usually starts in one eye and is highly likely to affect the other eye at a later stage.
Dry AMD is the most common form of the condition and develops slowly, eventually leading to loss of central vision. Wet AMD is caused by leaky blood vessels inside the eye. It is less common than dry AMD but it can cause more rapid loss of vision.
Key symptoms of Age Related Macular Degeneration include:
- Distortion, where straight lines may appear wavy or bent. For example, tiles in the bathroom appear wavy
- Difficulty in reading or doing any other activity which requires fine vision
- Difficulty in distinguishing faces
- Dark patches or empty spaces, which appear in the centre of your vision
- The need for increased illumination, sensitivity to glare, decreased night vision and poor colour sensitivity
What can I do to prevent AMD ?
The exact causes of AMD are still unknown. Although there can be a history of the condition in certain families, AMD is still not believed to be genetic. However, if close relatives have suffered with sight loss in the past, then it may be worth getting your eyes checked more regularly.
Studies have shown a definite link between smoking and AMD. Other factors such as high blood pressure and poor diet can also lead to a greater risk of getting AMD. Vitamins (C & E), beta-carotene, copper and zinc supplements in your diet, can help reduce the risk of developing AMD.
There are many risk factors for AMD, some out of your control, such as age, family history, race and gender. However, there are some steps you can take to help protect your sight from AMD.
If you are aged 50 or over it is important that you go for regular eye tests for AMD. It is recommended that you go every two years. And, in particular, to make sure the back of your eye is checked. Regular tests are also essential for drivers, if your occupation depends on having good vision, and if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, glaucoma or high blood pressure.
A healthy diet high in antioxidant vitamins and minerals has long been associated with the prevention or delay of AMD. Good sources of lutein are green leafy vegetables, especially spinach. However, for people who don’t get adequate nutrition through their diet, a nutritional supplement containing lutein or zeaxanthin may help. You can download a recipe book called “eating for your eye health” here.
Protect your vision from bright Sunshine: While the links between macular degeneration and sunlight exposure are not strong, it is recommended that you protect your eyes from UV light.
If you have any other concerns, or are worried that you could be suffering from Age related Macular Degeneration – speak to your GP or eye care professional as soon as possible.
Where do I go for more information ?
The following organisations can all provide help and information: