Learn More from Dr. Glenn K. Davis, II, MD, in Pulaski and Galax
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness for people over age 50. AMD affects about 2.1 million people nationwide, which makes early diagnosis and treatment important in preventing vision loss. During February, Dr. Glenn K Davis II joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in educating the public about the facts on AMD.
AMD is a degenerative disease that happens when part of the retina called the macula is damaged. It’s the part of the eye that delivers sharp, central vision needed to see objects straight ahead. Over time, the loss of central vision can interfere with everyday activities, such as the ability to drive, read, and see faces clearly.
Ophthalmologists Stress Awareness of AMD as a Chronic Health Issue
Ophthalmologists are the physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care. They place special focus on AMD as being a chronic health issue. With more tools than ever before to diagnose the disease earlier and treat it better, so many patients remain unaware.
Medical and technological advances cannot help patients whose disease is undiagnosed. Many patients are unaware of the seriousness of their disease. This lack of understanding about AMD is a real danger to public health. A recent study showed that most people with AMD do not realize it as a chronic health issue. In short, AMD requires regular attention for the rest of their lives.
Seven Steps from the AAO to Take Control of Eye Health
Patients can achieve optimal care when they take control of their eye health. It all begins with getting the right eye exams. The Academy offers these seven steps to help people take control of their eye health:
1. Get regular comprehensive medical eye exams.
AMD often has no early warning signs, so getting regular comprehensive eye exams from an ophthalmologist is critical to diagnosing and treating the eye disease in its early stages. The Academy recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40. This is the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. By age 65, the Academy recommends getting an exam every one-to-two years, even in the absence of symptoms or eye problems.
2. Quit smoking.
Numerous studies show smoking increases the risk of developing AMD, and the speed at which it progresses. Speak with your doctor about your smoking history, as it may be important to note. Smokers are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration compared with a nonsmoker.
3. Eat a well-balanced diet.
Many studies demonstrate that eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-packed foods, such as salmon and nuts, may reduce the risk of AMD. Research also suggests that patients who ate fresh fish, an important source of omega-3s, were at lower risk of developing AMD.
4. Take the right kind of vitamins.
Vitamins can delay progression of advanced AMD and help people keep their vision longer if they have intermediate AMD or advanced AMD in one eye. But make sure it’s the right combination of vitamins. A recent study found that some of the top-selling products do not contain identical ingredient dosages to eye vitamin formulas proven effective in clinical trials. Again, discuss this with the doctor to ensure you take the right kind of vitamins for your eye health.
5. Exercise regularly.
Exercising three times a week can reduce the risk of developing wet AMD by 70 percent. Studies also show that physical activity may lower the odds of both early and late-stages of AMD. Regular exercise is generally a good step to better health overall, not only for your eyes.
6. Monitor your sight with an Amsler Grid.
This simple, daily routine takes less than one minute and can help people with AMD save more of their vision. Using this grid is essential to finding any vision changes that are not obvious, so you can report them to your ophthalmologist.
7. Know your family’s eye health history.
If you have a close relative with AMD, you have a 50 percent greater chance of developing the condition. This added risk factor is definitely news to relay to the doctor. Before your next eye exam, speak with your family about their eye health history. You may need more frequent eye exams based on your family history.
Share Your AMD Awareness with Family and Friends
Now that you know more about age-related macular degeneration, mention it in your conversations with family and friends. Tell them something about these eye health and vision tips from the AAO. Sharing your AMD awareness can help promote better vision for those you love.
For more on complete eye care, give Glenn K. Davis, II, MD, a call at (540) 980-1965 in Pulaski or (276) 236-8307 in Galax today. Follow us on Facebook for updates on eye health and more on age-related macular degeneration awareness.