Home Health & Wellness Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): Prevention and Management Strategies

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): Prevention and Management Strategies

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease that affects the macula, which is the central part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision. It is characterised by the gradual deterioration of the macula, leading to blurred or distorted vision. AMD can be classified into two types: dry AMD and wet AMD.

Dry AMD

Most AMD cases are dry (85–90%). Under the retina, drusen, small yellow or white deposits, accumulate. These deposits accumulate in the macula, which provides detailed vision. A few tiny drusen may not affect eyesight initially, but as they spread and multiply, they can darken or distort vision, especially when reading. 

Wet AMD

Only 10–15% of AMD instances are wet, yet it is more aggressive and harmful. The macula grows new, aberrant blood vessels during choroidal neovascularisation. Fragile arteries leak blood and fluid, damaging the macula. Wet AMD can develop suddenly and cause visual loss. 

Risk factors for AMD

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing AMD. While some risk factors, such as age and family history, are beyond our control, there are others that we can modify or manage.

Age as a primary risk factor

Age is the biggest AMD risk factor. AMD risk rises with age, especially in people over 60. Age slows the physiological processes in the macula, which provides crisp, detailed vision. Drusen accumulates because cells can’t eliminate waste efficiently due to this delay. Drusen, extracellular deposits under the retina, characterise early AMD.

Smoking and Its Impact on AMD

Smoking is a major, modifiable AMD risk. Smoking is known to raise AMD risk. The vascular and cellular components of the eye can be damaged by oxidative agents and free radicals in tobacco smoke. Smoking can damage retinal blood vessels, increase oxidative stress, and cause inflammation, which can lead to AMD. Smokers are more likely to get AMD and have a worse prognosis. 

Prevention strategies for AMD

Prevention is key when it comes to AMD. By adopting a healthy lifestyle and implementing certain strategies, we can reduce our risk of developing AMD and maintain optimal eye health.

Diet and nutrition for AMD prevention

AMD prevention depends on a healthy diet. Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals improve eye health and decrease AMD development. Include these items in your diet for these nutrients:

  • Leafy green vegetables. Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, are exceptionally rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids are concentrated in the macula, where they serve as potent antioxidants and filters of harmful blue light.
  • Colourful fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables that are rich in colours, such as oranges, berries, carrots, and bell peppers, are not only visually appealing but also packed with essential vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Fatty fish. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA. These essential fats are crucial for maintaining the health of the retina and may help reduce the risk of AMD by combating inflammation and supporting the efficient functioning of retinal cells.

Treatment options for AMD

While there is currently no cure for AMD, several treatment options are available to slow the progression of the disease, manage symptoms, and preserve vision. The choice of treatment depends on the type and severity of AMD.

Managing dry AMD

Dry AMD, characterised by the accumulation of drusen and the gradual thinning of the macula, currently lacks a definitive cure. However, there are strategies to manage the condition and potentially slow its progression. “Lifestyle modifications are foundational in the management of dry AMD. These can include dietary changes to incorporate foods rich in antioxidants, regular physical activity, smoking cessation, and protecting the eyes from excessive exposure to sunlight with UV-blocking eyewear.” Says Makenna Francsis, PMHNP at American TMS

Treatment options for wet AMD

Wet AMD, although less common than dry AMD, is more aggressive and can lead to rapid vision loss. The hallmark of wet AMD is the growth of abnormal, leaky blood vessels beneath the macula, which can lead to swelling, bleeding, and scarring. 

Managing AMD and improving quality of life

Living with AMD can be challenging, but there are several strategies and resources available to help manage the condition and improve the quality of life.

Low vision aids and devices

“The employment of specialised low-vision aids and devices offers significant benefits to individuals suffering from severe age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that leads to considerable visual impairment. Age-related macular degeneration is a progressive eye condition that primarily affects the central vision, which is crucial for activities requiring fine detail, such as reading and writing. As the disease advances, it can significantly hamper an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks, thereby impacting their quality of life.” – Shonit Jagmohan, director and optometrist at Vision Camberwell.

Support groups and counselling

“Joining support groups or seeking counselling can give persons living with AMD with the opportunity to get both emotional support and knowledge that can be of great use. Establishing connections with individuals who have gone through situations that are like to your own can help lessen feelings of loneliness and provide a forum for the exchange of coping techniques and useful advice.” – Dave Koval, chief operating officer (COO) of Synergy Sobriety Solutions

Takeaway

Understanding the prevention and management strategies for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is vital for maintaining optimal eye health. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking, we can reduce the risk of AMD development. Early detection through regular eye exams and timely intervention are crucial for managing AMD and preserving vision. Treatment options, such as dietary supplements and anti-VEGF medications, can slow the progression of AMD and improve visual outcomes.




David Radar, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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