As we grow older, the surface of the cornea flattens so less light gets into the eye. At the same time, the macular (essential for reading and seeing the small print and fine details) becomes thinner. While lots of different causes lead to these changes, we can halt the progression through diet and exercise.
Fortunately, macular degeneration is not a painful condition and some people do not even realize that they have the condition until their symptoms become more severe.
What is the main symptom?
The main symptom of macular degeneration is the blurring of your central vision while your peripheral (outer) vision is not affected
The loss of central vision can affect your ability to see fine detail and colors. If you have dry macular degeneration, the symptoms usually develop gradually and sometimes only one eye is affected so that your healthy eye will compensate, making it even more difficult for you to realize there is a problem. This is why it is so important to have regular check ups by your eye doctor - particularly as you grow older and especially after the age of 50.
Further symptoms include
- The need for increasingly bright light when reading or doing close work
- Increasing difficulty adapting to low light levels, such as when entering a dimly lit restaurant
- Increasing blurriness of printed words
- A decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- A gradual increase in the haziness of your overall vision
- A blurred or blind spot in the center of your field of vision
- Hallucinations of geometric shapes or people, in cases of advanced macular degeneration
There is also wet age-related macular degeneration
This will show up in further symptoms and more suddenly than dry MD.
- Visual distortions. For example, straight lines may start to appear wavy or crooked.
- A blind spot usually appears in the middle of your visual field but the longer a blind spot is left untreated, the larger it will become - this is known as a central scotoma.
You can protect your eyes from macular degeneration by wearing wrap around sun glasses with UV blocking lens. A big hat or sun visor worn outdoors will also help protect your eyes. Avoid cigarette smoke which is bad news for eyes, increasing the risk of macular degeneration significantly by depleting those all important antioxidants. Smoking and cigarette smoke is the cause of 20% of all cataracts. Drinking alcohol can mean that you have lower than normal blood levels of carotenoids so limit your intake.
Your diet is very important too
Here are at least ten foods that can actively help
1. Omega-3 fatty acids
in sufficient quantities will help prevent macular degeneration by as much as 50%. Fish oil is good for improving vision while helping avoid macular degeneration in the ageing. The omega-3 fats found in salmon have been demonstrated to be effective in combating both macular degeneration and chronic dry eye with 2 servings of salmon from a safe and sustainable source per week being the optimum intake.
2. Folic acid
helps prevent macular degeneration and those foods rich in folic acid are found in 4 of the main food groups. For example: (1) liver, chicken, giblets, kidney and egg yolk ; (2) legumes and nuts; (3) wholegrain breads, wheat flour, potatoes; (4) green veggies including asparagus as well as banana, oranges and peaches. Cooking can destroy folic acid so eat as many of these foods raw. Egg yolks that are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, a class of carotenoids offering powerful prevention against age-related macular degeneration.
3. Goji berries
are rich in carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. One of zeaxanthin's key roles is to protect the retina of the eye by absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant. An increased intake of zeaxanthin is thought to decrease the risk of developing blurred vision and age-related macular degeneration.
4. Generous servings of strawberries
and other fruits every day can decrease the risk of macular degeneration while papaya
is high in antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E which are strongly related to the prevention of vision loss and therefore an excellent way to promote good vision.
is known to improve the micro circulation and regeneration of the retinal pupil. The flavonoid complex in bilberries, help hasten regeneration of rhodopsin which is a purple pigment used by the eyes for the purpose of night vision. Bilberries may also help to prevent cataracts while treating macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
is a also an excellent source of vitamin A that is needed to form retinal, the light-absorbing molecule that is essential for both low-light and color vision.
contain ellagic acid, which is an effective antioxidant that helps to prevent damage to the cells through eliminating free radicals. Cell damage usually results in degenerative diseases. Raspberries enhance eye health with their antioxidant properties, fighting macular degeneration especially in elderly people.
8. If you are getting older, eating spinach
helps to keep your brain young and working as it should while the carotenoid, known as lutein, protects against eye diseases such as age-related cataracts and macular degeneration. It is said that eating spinach with a little olive oil helps the lutein to be absorbed better.
have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. Lutein protects against both macular degeneration and cataracts.
is an excellent source of thiamin, potassium and magnesium for added protection against so many diseases including macular degeneration.