Your eyesight is precious, but do you take it for granted? February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, so we’re here to inform you about the causes and risk factors.
Our board-certified ophthalmologists with Wolchok Eye Associates, PA, are the experts to see regularly to ensure your eye health and to consult if you have a vision problem. You may have heard the term “macular degeneration.” What does it mean?
What is age-related macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is an eye disorder in which the central part of the retina, called the macula, deteriorates. The macula is the part of your eye enabling you to see objects directly in front of you. If it isn’t in good working order, you have a circular blurry spot or loss of vision in the center of your eye but still have peripheral vision.
There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Most people with macular degeneration have the dry type.
Why is it important to diagnose age-related macular degeneration early?
Some eye disorders progress so slowly that you don’t realize you have a problem. The dry form of age-related macular degeneration is one such disorder. Both forms of AMD can eventually result in blindness if left untreated, which is why it’s important to maintain a schedule of regular eye checkups. Your Wolchok Eye Associates physician tells you how frequently to have your eyes checked based on your medical history and family history.
What are the risk factors for age-related macular degeneration?
The following are common risk factors for AMD.
AMD occurs most frequently in individuals over the age of 60. It’s one of the reasons why we recommend more frequent eye examinations for seniors than for younger people.
You probably know your skin has melanin, but you may not know that your eyes contain melanin too. It’s a protective factor against sun exposure. By the time you reach age 65, approximately 50% of that protection is gone. You’re more at risk of the disorder.
Too much sun exposure
Do you always wear sunglasses with UV or ultraviolet protection? Make sure your sunglasses have this protection. Buy sunglasses at reputable stores that specialize in eyeglasses.
If you have a job in which you’re outdoors in the sun much of the day, love the beach and pool, or play sports in the sun, you’re at increased risk of macular degeneration. Invest in sunglasses that have 100% protection from UVB and UVA rays. Polarized sunglasses also help protect against glare.
If family members have had AMD, you’re more at risk than others who don’t have relatives with it. Genetics plays a significant role in the disorder.
AMD is also more common among Asian and Caucasian individuals. Specific genes are associated with AMD.
Fat-filled snack food
Do you crave potato chips, store-bought cakes, pies, cookies, and other processed snack foods? Check the ingredients in those foods. If they have vegetable, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, try to steer clear. Snack food filled with unhealthy fats may increase your risk of macular degeneration.
Try increasing your intake of foods with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, or albacore tuna. Toss some flaxseed and edamame on your salads.
If you’re overweight or obese, now’s the time to try to lose those extra pounds. Being obese likely increases the risk of macular degeneration and can progress to a severe form of the disorder.
You know smoking is bad for your health, but you might not know that smoking increases your risk for AMD. If you can quit, your risk decreases.
Call Wolchok Eye Associates, PA, or book an appointment through our online portal today to schedule an eye examination in our Jacksonville, Florida office, to ensure your eye health.