Macular degeneration is a common eye disease that can can have a devastating effect on your vision and eye health if not diagnosed and treated early.
Fortunately, maintaining good health and nutrition has been shown to play a potential role in preventing the development or progression of the disease.
Our eye doctors explain more below.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a disease that affects the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. The retina takes visual information, turns it into electrical signals, and sends it to the brain to be interpreted into a coherent image. This is the final crucial part of the visual process.
Macular degeneration specifically affects the area in the very middle of the retina that gives us clear and detailed central vision. This part os known ad the macula.
If not detected and treated early, this condition can progress all the way to total blindness.
Macular degeneration is divided into two different types, depending on the root of the damage being done:
Dry macular degeneration:
This is the most common type of macular degeneration.
It usually happens as a result of the build-up of tiny yellow deposits of cellular waste material, called drusen, under the retina. This build-up begins to impact the macula, leaving a blurry or blind spot in the center of a person’s vision.
Once symptoms set in, everyday activities such as driving and recognizing faces may become increasingly difficult or impossible.
Wet macular degeneration:
This rarer, but much more serious form of the disease, can become sight-threatening very quickly. It happens when new blood vessels star to form under the macula.
The new blood vessels are thin and fragile, eventually breaking and beginning to leak blood and other fluids onto the retina and macula. Build-up of these fluids causes the macula to swell. Loss of vision can result quickly, progressing to total blindness without immediate treatment.
Vitamins and Minerals That May Help With Macular Degeneration
Fortunately, research has shown that specific vitamins and minerals may be able to help prevent dry macular degeneration from worsening and becoming the wet form. They may also help prevent vision loss in one eye after the first has already suffered vision loss from macular degeneration.
Our optometrists in advise that antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E, can help to fight oxidants and free radicals that cause development and progression of macular degeneration.
Certain minerals known as carotenoids are found in many fresh fruits and vegetables, and serve as a kind of ‘sunscreen’ for the macula, protecting it against damage from ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Specific carotenoids that are especially helpful are zeaxanthin and lutein.
Speak to our eye care team about the best ways to get plenty of these vitamins and minerals. You can also speak to us about whether a certain specialized formulation of supplement, known as the AREDS formulation, is appropriate for you.
Want to know more? Contact our eye doctors at today.
Can macular degeneration be reversed?
There is unfortunately no cure for macular degeneration, and vision loss that occurs as a result cannot be reversed or recovered. Prevention through good diet and regular eye exams is the best way to ensure that long-term vision loss from macular degeneration is minimized.
Who is most likely to develop macular degeneration?
There are a number of factors that increase a person’s risk of developing macular degeneration. People over the age of 60 are at highest risk, with genetics and cardiovascular disease also increasing risk. Smokers, those who are obese, and caucasians are also at higher risk.