More than 15 million Americans suffer from AMD (age related macular degeneration), and more than 1.7 million have the advanced form of the disease.

Let's briefly review what macular degeneration is before we get into how to prevent it. Macular degeneration is an eye disease that affects the back of the eye, specifically the macula, which is responsible for central vision, and is typically associated with aging.

What are the different types of macular degeneration?

There are two kinds of macular degeneration, dry and wet.

As compared to the wet form, the dry form is less severe, and it might not cause as much damage. Therefore, you may not notice much of a difference in your central vision. The wet form of macular degeneration is more severe. It may lead to vision loss. In the wet form, there may be new blood vessels growing under the macula, causing swelling and bleeding, resulting in reduced vision.

How can you prevent macular degeneration?

Following are some way you can prevent macular degeneration:

  • Having regular comprehensive eye exams for macular degeneration - Having your eye examined at least once every year is one of the most important things you can do, since early detection is vital. So make sure that you go to your eye doctor every year, get dilated to take a look at your back part of the eye and macula, just to make sure that everything is healthy. Should your optometrist notice early signs of macular degeneration, they want to diagnose it sooner rather than later, so that they can help slow down the progression of the disease, especially if you have a family history of it. Depending on how many risk factors you have, your eye doctor may want to see you more often than once a year, maybe every six months, or even every three to four months.
  • Giving up smoking - If you are a smoker, it's really important to stop smoking, since it significantly increases your risk of developing the more severe form of macular degeneration.
  • Preventing UV rays - To prevent macular degeneration from progressing, you need to avoid UV rays, so when you go outside, make sure your sunglasses or glasses have UV protection.
  • AREDS supplements - To prevent macular degeneration from becoming more severe, your eye doctor may also recommend certain eye supplements known as AREDS, which provide a variety of vitamins and antioxidants, which help slow down that progression. The AREDS2 formula is based on the study by that name called the Age Related Eye Disease Study 2, from which it was shown that these supplements are effective at reducing the progression of Age Related Macular Degeneration. These supplements include vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and copper. Based on your eye doctor's evaluation, the dosage of these supplements will be determined.
  • Amsler grid - Amsler grids are used to check whether lines appear distorted or wavy or whether areas of the visual field are missing. It may be given to you by our eye doctor for you to monitor at home to see if there are any changes.
  • Choose an optometrist with the latest technology - OCT and the Reteval ERG  provide our eye doctors a more accurate and detailed view of your eyes and eye health. If you are at early stages of AMD or have a family history of AMD, it is strongly recommended that you visit an optometrist that has specialized instrumentation and detailed images of the eye.

Schedule a comprehensive eye exam

If you notice any progression on the amsler grid, where the straight lines become wavy or bent, if you have recently noticed a decrease in your central vision such as difficulty reading, or if you have noticed a recent difficulty with night driving and glare,  then you should schedule a medical eye exam as soon as possible so that your eye doctors can assess the reasons for your vision changes and ensure that the proper preventative or treatment measures are in place.

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