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Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, can pose a serious threat to your eyesight, especially as you near your 60s. This disease progresses in stages, with each stage holding more potential to cause progressive, irreversible damage to your central field of vision. But while you might understandably fear the vision loss that this disorder can create, you should also know that you have the power to fight back against it.

Know Your Enemy: Understanding Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration affects a portion of the retina called the macular. This area gathers and relays the images that form your central visual field. Damage to the macula can cause waviness or blank spots in this area, making it hard to see objects directly in front of you. Even though it may not lead to total blindness, AMD is one of the most dreaded of the common eye diseases for its ability to reduce your functional eyesight drastically. To make matters worse, the damage done by AMD is permanent.

Early AMD, in which small deposits called drusen form on the macula, may not cause any vision issues. As these deposits become larger in intermediate,vision may become affected. These two stages are referred to as “dry” AMD. In advanced or “wet” AMD, abnormal blood vessels form under the retina, leaking blood into the macula to cause swelling and damage.

AMD Screening

Preserving Your Vision Against Macular Degeneration

The good news is that you don’t have to allow macular degeneration to destroy your eyesight. The right combination of smart strategies and best practices can help you curb the condition’s advance and preserve as much of your vision as possible. The following steps can help form your anti-AMD game plan:

Comprehensive Eye Exams – Regular, comprehensive eye exams can help our Kansas City eye doctors identify AMD in its earliest stages, giving us advance warning so we can start making treatment recommendations. These exams include pupil dilation so we can view as much of the retinal surface as possible. Schedule these exams every two years at a minimum, or every year if you’re over 60.

Lifestyle Changes – Your lifestyle plays a role in your AMD risk, so making healthy changes may slow AMD progression or even prevent the disease’s onset. The most important change is to eliminate smoking, a factor that boosts AMD risk fourfold. Eat plenty of fatty fish and leafy green vegetables to nourish your eyes. Exercise regularly, and maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. When you’re outdoors, don’t forget to wear sunglasses that block both UV rays and blue light.

Sunglasses

Nutritional Support – No matter how healthy your diet may be, you can’t always know whether you’re getting all the nutrients you need to guard against AMD. A daily multivitamin can help fill any nutritional gaps. If you have early or intermediate AMD, your Kansas City ophthalmologist may recommend an additional nutritional protocol called AREDS2. This combination of zinc, copper, lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamins C and E may delay or prevent the progression into “wet” AMD.

Medical Treatment – Even if you develop advanced macular degeneration despite your best efforts to prevent it, our eye care clinic can provide state-of-the-art medical treatment to save your eyesight. One common techniques involves the use of medications called VGEF inhibitors. These drugs, which are injected periodically into the eye, can reduce the endothelial growth factor that causes abnormal blood vessels to proliferate. Laser surgery or photodynamic dynamic therapy (which uses a combination of drugs and laser light) can help destroy abnormal blood vessels. In the most extreme cases, you may even benefit from an implantable camera that magnifies your remaining central vision.

Macular degeneration may be a formidable enemy, but you have more control over it than you may have realized. Contact Silverstein Eye Centers to schedule a comprehensive eye exam and ask about your AMD-fighting options!

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