Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a medical condition that results in blurred central eyesight due to damage of the macula. Peripheral eyesight is generally unaffected. The macula is a tiny spot in our retina responsible for our most acute and detailed eyesight. We use the macula when looking at faces, doing fine detailed work, or viewing targets very far in the distance.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause for legal blindness in people over the age of 55. Vision loss normally occurs gradually and typically affects both eyes but at different rates.
There are two forms of ARMD, wet and dry. The majority of patients have the dry form, which involves thinning and scarring of macular tissues, and pigment changes. Some patients have the wet form, which involves bleeding underneath the retinal tissue.
Early detection of ARMD is very important because certain treatments that are available can delay or reduce the severity of the disease. Nutrition plays a role in the development and advancement of ARMD. There is evidence that eating fresh fruit and dark green leafy vegetables may delay or reduce the severity of ARMD. Supplementation of the critical macular pigment carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin is extremely helpful in reducing the risk based on many studies.
Lifestyle changes are also helpful in controlling the development or advancement of ARMD. Ultraviolet light from the sun has been shown to harm the retina. Sunglasses with UV protection can help block the damaging light. Exposure to smoke can accelerate the advancement of ARMD. Systemic diseases like high blood pressure can also worsen ARMD.
Having annual routine comprehensive eye evaluations to monitor changes is essential to the control and management of ARMD.