Age related Macular
related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of the macula, which is
the central part of the retina. In the developed countries, this condition is
the leading cause of blindness in people over 65 years of age. The principal
cause in this age group is now thought to be the cumulative effects of sun
radiation in susceptible individuals. Thus sun protection again is of
particular importance. It needs to be understood that sun protection must begin
at a very early age as the effects of UV radiation are cumulative and are
usually not manifest at a younger age.
proportion of people suffers AMD that is clearly due to a genetic defect. They
usually show signs of the disease upon routine eye examination at an earlier
age (mostly over 50 years).
important factor that makes an individual more prone to retinal damage from UV
radiation is a diet lacking in anti-oxidants. As in the case of cataract
prevention, a balanced diet that is high in fruits, grains and vegetables is
necessary for an adequate supply of the vitamins and minerals that are needed
to maintain the retina in a healthy state. Spinach and collard greens have been
proven to be especially helpful. If a well-balanced diet is not possible, ask
your eyecare professional for vitamin supplements. For further reading on AMD
and diet go to Nutrition and the Eye .
smoking can deplete the levels of anti-oxidants and can also interfere with the
micro-vascular circulation, it can significantly contribute to AMD and should
be avoided. On the other hand, there is recent news that alcohol consumption
does not adversely affect AMD. In fact, research at the Howard University in
Washington found that wine consumption reduced the risk of AMD by 20 per cent.
only about 10 per cent of cases of AMD are of the form that can potentially be
treated with current available treatments. Given this fact, and also the fact that AMD is quite
prevalent in old age, we must make people aware of the need to actively engage
in the preventive measures outlined above, especially if they have early signs
of the disease.
those in whom AMD has progressed to the stage where the vision is markedly
affected, LOW VISION services are generally available to help with finding
suitable magnifying aids and with rehabilitating affected individuals. An
example of an organisation offering such services is the Low Vision Clinic in
Hawthorn (Victoria, Aust.) that is run by the Association For The Blind.