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Health Notes

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Macular DegenerationAge Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a degeneration of the central portion of the retina (back of the eye). It can cause a loss of central, sharp vision, but side vision usually remains good. Studies show that people in their fifties have a 2% risk of developing AMD, but that risk rises to 30% if you are over age 70. If your parents have AMD, your risk is 50%. Other risk factors include, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diet, obesity, and ultraviolet light. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people over 55.

AMD can be dry, meaning there is no new blood vessel growth or fluid leakage. About 90% of AMD patients have the dry form of the disease. Dry AMD is best managed thru risk factor control, improved nutrition, and continued monitoring by your doctor. Wet AMD can cause rapid and severe loss of central vision. Prompt diagnosis and treatment with injectable drugs or laser surgery may be necessary to stop progression and irreversible loss of vision.
Early signs of AMD may be discovered in your dilated eye examination. Changes in retinal pigmentation or deposits called drusen detected in an eye examination may be early signs of possible AMD. Small drusen do not usually cause vision loss, but careful monitoring for change in size or fluid leakage is an important element to prevent significant vision loss. Retinal photography, O.C.T. retinal ultra-sound, and frequent dilated examinations help us monitor change. Measuring the macular pigment optical density (MPOD) can identify an important risk factor in developing AMD. This MPOD test is available at Brainerd Eyecare Center and may be recommended if you have AMD or factors that place you at increased risk.

The ARED Study found a significant reduction in vision loss for people with Category 3 and 4 AMD who took vitamin supplements. Numerous other studies have confirmed that taking vitamins can reduce your risk of developing AMD. What can you do to reduce your risk of vision loss from AMD?
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a well balanced diet rich in dark, leafy vegetables like spinach and cold water fish that contain Omega -3 nutrients. Brightly colored foods such as orange peppers, corn, eggs, and mangos contain lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol well controlled
  • Consider taking antioxidant vitamin supplements containing appropriate levels of Zinc, Vitamins C, D and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and Omega- 3 fish oil
  • Wear sunglasses that filter harmful ultra-violet and blue wavelength sunlight
  • Exercise and maintain proper weight control
  • Report any changes in vision, especially if objects suddenly appear distorted
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