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January 11, 2018

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): What Seniors Should Know

Everyone knows of the iris and cornea. But what about the macula? Though it’s one of the smallest parts of the eye (5mm in diameter), the macula plays a significant role in the vision needed to read, write, and even recognize faces. It’s also extraordinarily common for the macula to become damaged as we age, which can ultimately lead to a condition known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

A Closer Look at AMD
\nTwo types of AMD exist: dry and wet. The former is much more common, and occurs when parts of the macula become thinner causing one to lose their central vision. Wet AMD, while less common, is more serious and occurs when abnormal blood vessels leak fluid and scar the macula. Vision loss resulting from AMD tends to be gradual and painless, and most don’t notice until their vision has become notably blurry.

As its name implies, AMD is more common among older adults; for adults over the age of 60, the rate is one in eight, and one in three for those over 80. And while there are some treatments that exist for AMD, they don’t wholly cure the condition. This makes it imperative that older adults schedule regular examinations so that an ophthalmologist can detect problems before they become severe.

Additionally, there are steps older adults can take to reduce their risk of macular degeneration or advanced AMD. Be sure that your loved one consults a physician before incorporating any of the tips into his or her lifestyle.

AMD Risk Reduction Tips

  • Don’t smoke, or take steps to quit smoking
  • Follow a healthy diet that includes plenty of leafy greens, fruit, and nuts – while also limiting the intake of processed foods. Foods high in refined carbohydrates, in particular, should be avoided. The increase in blood sugar and insulin release from these foods can have a direct impact on the risk of developing AMD.
  • Take multivitamins and supplements to help get nutrients not supplied by foods. Research any vitamins or supplements thoroughly, and always discuss the option with a physician.
  • Follow a regular exercise plan that allows for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, once a day. One study showed that those who led an active lifestyle were 70 percent less likely to develop AMD.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Following some of the steps above will naturally help with this, but keep in mind that losing weight isn’t necessarily difficult. Keeping it off is the tricky part. Consult with your physician to determine the best plan of action.
  • Schedule regular eye examinations with your eye doctor. Even if he/she doesn’t find any signs of AMD, it’s still important to have your eyes examined, to help detect cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye diseases.

Comfort Keepers® Can Help
If your aging loved one is faced with age-related macular degeneration or other vision problems, let him or her know that that the compassionate, professional team at Comfort Keepers® is ready to help. Our caregivers can provide assistance with everything from light housekeeping to mobility assistance.

We'll work to promote a healthy, independent lifestyle for your loved one, and even provide safe transportation – whether he or she needs to get to an ophthalmologist appointment or just to the grocery store. If you want to learn more about Comfort Keepers’ services and how we can make a difference in your loved one’s life, contact your local office today.

All About Vision. “What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?” by Marilyn Haddrill. Web. 2018.
National Eye Institute. “Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration.” Web. 2018.
MedicineNet. “Macular Degeneration” by Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS. Web. 2018.

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