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Concerned About Macular Degeneration? – Here Are 6 Tips to Lower your Risk

What Is Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of the macula, the key part of the retina responsible for highly detailed vision and central vision. There are two main types of macular degeneration: dry and wet.

Dry AMD occurs when small deposits in the macula called drusen gradually damage the light-sensitive retinal nerve cells, leading to vision loss.

In wet AMD, fragile new blood vessels grow under the macula. When these blood vessels leak blood or fluid, it damages the macula. Although both types of macular degeneration can result in vision loss, wet AMD is the more serious form of the disease as it results in faster and greater vision loss.

Who Is At High Risk for Macular Degeneration?

  • age 50+
  • a diet high in saturated fat
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Family history of AMD
  • Cardiovascular disease

6 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Macular Degeneration

The following have been shown to lower the risk of developing AMD:

Stop smoking

If you don’t smoke, don’t start, and if you smoke—quit. Smokers are 4 times more at risk of developing AMD and typically develop the disease around 10 years earlier than non-smokers.

Wear Quality Sunglasses

UV rays from sunlight can put your eyes at risk. So make sure you choose high-quality 100% UVA & UBV filtering sunglasses to block the sun’s harmful UV rays. Consider getting polarized lenses, as they filter out reflected light rays more efficiently. That’s especially important if you spend time on the water, at the beach, in the snow or driving.

Check Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure not only harms your heart, but restricts oxygenated blood from reaching your eyes. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. If you already have hypertension, consider using an at-home monitor to keep tabs on it.

Eat Healthy and Consider Supplements

Cut out saturated fat, which can raise your blood pressure. Eat fewer animal fats and replace butter with olive oil. Look for plant-based, high-protein alternatives to meat, and eat oily fish like sardines, mackerel and salmon.

Dark, leafy greens are terrific for your eyes. Kale and other greens are full of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that promote eye health. If you have dry AMD, ask your optometrist about antioxidant supplements that can slow AMD’s progression.

Know Your Family History

Up to 70% of AMD cases have a genetic component. People with a parent or sibling with AMD have a greater risk of developing this serious sight-threatening eye disease. If you have a family history of this disease, get your eyes frequent eye tested for AMD.

Get Your Eyes Checked Regularly

Everyone should have regular comprehensive eye exams, especially if you’re over 50, have a family history of AMD, hypertension or other risk factors.

An eye exam that screens for AMD typically includes:

  • Visual Acuity – tests your ability to read and see an eye chart from various distances
  • Pupil Dilation – the optometrist applies eye drops to dilate the pupil so they can examine the inside of your eyes
  • Digital Retina Image and/or OCT – full color 3D imaging of the macula to detect leakage from the vessels and measure retinal thickness. This can help the eye doctor diagnose wet AMD, even in the early phases.
  • Amsler Grid – The optometrist asks the patient how straight lines on a checkerboard grid appear. The answer “wavy” or “missing” could indicate the presence dry or wet AMD.

Your vision is your gateway to the world. Good vision lets you live an active and independent life, even in your advanced years. Regardless of your age, get your eyes checked regularly, and all the more frequently if you have a family history of AMD or other risk factors.

To schedule your eye exam with Dr. Terry Tsang, contact Dr. Terry Tsang Optometry, Inc. in Irvine today.

FAQ

What percentage of the population has macular degeneration?

An estimated 8.7% of the global population has macular degeneration. This number is expected to increase from the current 196 million people affected to 288 million by 2040.

Do injections work for wet macular degeneration?

When AMD has progressed to the “wet” phase, anti-VEGF injections can preserve remaining vision by reducing fluid leakage and bleeding from the macular blood vessels.

What’s The Link Between Obesity And Eye Disease?

People who are obese are at higher risk of developing some sight-threatening eye conditions and diseases. Read on to discover why, and how we can help.

It is well documented that obesity impacts health in numerous ways, from a higher incidence of diabetes to cardiovascular disease. What many people don’t know is obesity’s negative effect on vision and eye health. Speak with our Eye care professionals at Dr. Terry Tsang Optometry, Inc. about any concerns you may have about your eye health or vision.

There is increasing evidence that obese individuals have a greater risk of developing serious, sight-threatening eye diseases.

Researchers at the Goldschleger Eye Institute at the Sheba Medical Center found a consistent link between obesity and the development of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

The researchers noted that the public is largely unaware of this link, despite the evidence. If more people knew about the risk, they said, it might motivate them to try to shed some extra weight.

How Does Obesity Impact The Eyes?

A body mass index (BMI) of 25-30 is considered overweight and any BMI over 30 is considered obese. Recent studies indicate that a handful of ocular diseases can now be added to the list of medical conditions associated with an elevated BMI.

Diabetic retinopathy, floppy eyelid syndrome, retinal vein occlusions, stroke-related vision loss, and age-related macular degeneration are all risk factors of obesity.

While the cause is not yet certain, researchers believe this may be due to the peripheral artery disease prevalent among people who are obese. When the tiny blood vessels around the eyes are compromised, they may have trouble delivering oxygen and other nutrients to the eye area.

Obesity is also a risk factor for developing cataracts (the clouding of the eye’s natural lens). Poor nutrition or high blood sugar levels, which are commonly found in people with obesity, may contribute to the cloudiness.

Although obesity may contribute to cataract formation, losing weight may not significantly reduce the risk of developing them, partly because cataracts are also a common consequence of aging, whatever one’s weight.

Additionally, morbid obesity is associated with higher inner eye pressure, which may increase one’s risk of glaucoma and glaucomatous optic neuropathy — leading causes of vision loss and blindness. Morbid obesity is defined as having a BMI of 40 or above, or 35 and above with health conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.

Stay Active, Healthy, and Have Regular Eye Exams

An active lifestyle and a nutritious diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve overall physical and eye health. Try to include several key nutrients into your diets, such as vitamins C and E, zeaxanthin, omega-3, zinc, and lutein, as they may help delay or prevent certain eye diseases.

While a balanced diet and regular exercise significantly increase your chance of living a healthy life, it’s also crucial to have regular eye exams. A comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Terry Tsang can help detect the onset of ocular disease and ensure the earliest and most effective treatment to preserve your gift of sight.

Don’t hesitate to call Dr. Terry Tsang Optometry, Inc. in Irvine with any questions or concerns regarding your vision or eye health — we’re here for you.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Astigmatism, Pink Eye or conjunctivitis Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Irvine eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

Book an eye exam at Dr. Terry Tsang Optometry, Inc. eye clinic near you in Irvine, California to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you. Call 949-870-2763

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  • Is it possible to prevent Macular Degeneration?

    Doctors aren’t sure how to prevent macular degeneration. Research suggests that ultraviolet light (and possibly blue light) factors into the problem, so sunglasses could be very beneficial.

  • My doctor says I have a cataract, but he wants to wait a while before removing it. Why?

    A cataract usually starts very small and practically unnoticeable but grows gradually larger and cloudier. Your doctor is probably waiting until the cataract interferes significantly with your vision and your lifestyle. You need to continue to visit your eye doctor regularly so the cataract’s progress is monitored. Some cataracts never really reach the stage where they should be removed. If your cataract is interfering with your vision to the point where it is unsafe to drive, or doing everyday tasks is difficult, then it’s time to discuss surgery with your doctor.

  • What exactly is glaucoma?

    Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye’s intraocular pressure (IOP) is too high. This means that your eye has too much aqueous humor in it, either because it produced too much, or because it’s not draining properly. Other symptoms are optic nerve damage and vision loss. Glaucoma is a silent disease that robs the patient of their peripheral vision. Early detection is very important.

  • What is diabetic retinopathy?

    Doctors aren’t sure how to prevent macular degeneration. Research suggests that ultraviolet light (and possibly blue light) factors into the problem, so sunglasses could be very beneficial.