What is Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration, also known as age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), is a common condition that affects vison. It is one of the leading causes of vision loss around the world.

Macular Degeneration affects the part of the eye known as the macula which is the small central area of the retina that helps to maintain our sharpest vision. The health of the macula determines our ability to read, drive and to perform any other detailed visual task. When the macula starts to deteriorate images are not received properly and this causes vision to deteriorate. In the early stages of the disease, macular degeneration does not affect vision but as the disease progresses, vision may become wavy or blurred especially in the centre. If the condition continues to worsen, central vision may be lost completely. A person with AMD gradually loses central vision but maintains peripheral vision or side vision. Total blindness is rare. AMD may occur in one eye or both eyes and may affect each eye differently.

The prevalence of Macular Degeneration and the severity of vision loss increases with age which is why it is also known as age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). It is also more common in females than in males.

You are more likely to develop AMD if you:

• eat a diet high in saturated fat
• are overweight
• smoke cigarettes
• are over 50 years old
• have hypertension (high blood pressure)
• have a family history of AMD

Follow these 6 tips to maintain good eye health:

1. Do not smoke.

Smoking has been directly linked to Macular Degeneration. By increasing the number of damaging chemical compounds or reducing the number of protective nutrients delivered by the bloodstream to the eye, research has shown that smoking increases the chances of developing Macular Degeneration.

2. Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.

Obesity and inactivity are risk factors of Macular Degeneration. It is very important to maintain normal blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Being diabetic or having heart disease increases your chances of developing Macular Degeneration. Exercise regularly by going for a walk every day or by participating in more strenuous activities if possible.

3. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Macular Degeneration has been linked to diets high in saturated fats. This includes foods like meat, butter and cheese. Eat healthy foods and a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. You should eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salon, sardines and tuna, at least once or twice a week. Avoid processed snack foods like cakes, cookies and soft drinks.

4. Eat large quantities of dark green leafy vegetables.

Green leafy vegetables contains carotenoids which are the yellow pigments that include the precursors of Vitamin A. Two yellow pigments found in the macula known as lutein and zeaxanthin are also found in green leafy vegetables. These pigments are very beneficial to our eyes and perform a number of useful functions.

5. Avoid going out in the sun without sunglasses and a hat.

Too much exposure to the suns UV rays and to blue light can damage the eyes and increase the risk of developing Macular Degeneration. Therefore always wear sunglasses when outdoors in the sun. Wearing a hat will protect you even more.

6. Take a daily supplement to support your eyes

Daily nutritional supplements like Vitalux Plus are very useful to maintain healthy eyes. Vitalux Plus contains the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of the antioxidants, vitamins and mineral supplements which are proven to support vision. These include lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Copper and Zinc.

If you have symptoms of Macular Degeneration, a family history of Macular Degeneration or any risk factors of Macular Degeneration you should make an appointment with your eye specialist for a checkup.