Understanding and living with age-related macular degeneration

age-related macular degeneration

What is age-related macular degeneration?

Losing your sight or coming to terms with the thought of future sight loss can be an incredibly difficult time in anyone’s life. Being diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can make an individual feel isolated and lonely. In this month’s blog post, Opticall Eyecare explores the diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration and how to continue with daily life after a diagnosis has been given. We will also look at the signs and symptoms of the disease and what you should be doing to take care of your eyes. 

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic eye condition that can lead to permanent vision loss. It occurs when ageing causes damage to the macula, the part of the eye responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. The macula is part of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. As AMD progresses slowly, it initially impacts one’s ability to see objects clearly in their central field of vision. Unfortunately, as AMD worsens over time, it can make reading or recognising faces and drive safely difficult. It even affects performing simple tasks such as cooking or repairing items around the house.

Fortunately, treatments currently available may help slow down or prevent further deterioration of sight due to AMD. At any stage, though, regular checkups with an optometrist can be beneficial in tracking and managing AMD symptoms if they arise. Caring for one’s eyes with proper preventive measures such as wearing sunglasses and maintaining good overall health habits like eating fruits and veggies and exercising regularly can reduce any potential age-related risks to vision health significantly over time.

Signs and symptoms of age-related macular degeneration

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease in people over the age of 50 and is the leading cause of vision loss in those over 65. It gradually destroys the macula, which provides sharp central vision, thus leaving individuals with blurry vision or even blindness. The symptoms of AMD depend on its stage; dry AMD, the most common form, has three stages: early, intermediate, and late.

The early stage does not usually present any symptoms and can remain undetected for some time. In the intermediate stage, when damage to the macula begins to set in, some people may notice mild blurriness in their central vision or difficulty seeing properly in low lighting. Unfortunately, as it progresses into the later stages, AMD becomes more damaging and can completely destroy one’s central vision altogether, which may lead to significant visual impairment or total blindness if left untreated.

It is important to note that AMD is a progressive disease—this means its symptoms usually get worse over time, so regular eye exams are essential for early detection. Treatment can be recommended sooner rather than later. Treatment options vary depending on each individual case but may include lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or specialized therapy with vitamins.

Lowering your risk of age-related macular degeneration

Your risk of developing Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) increases as you age. People over the age of 55 are more likely to develop AMD, with the risk only rising as more time passes. In addition to being older, people with a family history of AMD have a higher chance of having the condition themselves; it’s also more common in Caucasians and smokers than in any other group.

Having one or more risks does not necessarily indicate that you’ll develop AMD — many factors contribute to its cause. However, it’s smart to be aware of the potential causes so that early detection is possible; some treatments require early intervention to ensure positive results. Even if you don’t experience any symptoms now, ensuring that your eyes receive regular care from a doctor specialising in eye conditions can prevent any difficulties from developing in the future.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to lower your risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Quitting smoking and avoiding smoking altogether can help reduce your risk. Regular physical activity can keep blood flow strong, helping reduce inflammation and allowing essential nutrients to reach your eyes. Maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol and blood pressure can also protect against AMD by keeping circulation in the eye normal. Eating a balanced diet with lots of leafy greens and fish, packed with essential vitamins, nutrients and healthy fats that are incredibly beneficial for eye health, can also help limit your risk for AMD.

Taking these preventative steps now may not guarantee that you will never develop AMD, but it can reduce your chances or slow down its progression if you have been diagnosed. Even minor lifestyle modifications like taking regular breaks from the computer (or other high-resolution screens), protecting yourself from UV light exposure, wearing sunglasses when outside and wearing eye protection when engaging in activities such as sports or gardening can be helpful preventative measures. Ultimately, making conscious efforts to live healthier lifestyles is an important aspect of reducing AMD risks, as well as continuing regular visits with an optometrist for screening and management

This may also interest you:

Your 2023 Opticall personal eyecare report explained

Top tips for living safely at home with a vision impairment

The importance of choosing the right eyewear

Book your regular eye examinations with Opticall Eyecare

It is imperative to have a regular eye exam when you are trying to maintain healthy eyesight – particularly after a diagnosis of AMD or if you are worried that you may have symptoms of the disease. Opticall Eyecare supports clients and residential settings across the South East of the UK as a leading home-visiting optician team. Our experienced team of qualified professionals will ensure that your eyesight and any deterioration are tracked comprehensively and that you are aware of the health of your eyes and how you can continue to support them in the future. 

If you are worried about age-related macular degeneration or need to book another optician’s appointment, contact Opticall Eyecare today and let us help you take care of your sight.