VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS FOR MACULAR DEGENERATION PREVENT VISUAL IMPAIRMENT
Macular Degeneration, an acquired retinal disease that affects millions of elderly adults, can cause loss of the ability to see details, causing blurry vision and possibly legal blindness. Despite the social costs that include depression and loss of interest in activities, and the societal health costs including retina eye surgery, many people are unaware that new research has proven that vitamin supplements for macular degeneration can slow the progress of this disease, and in some cases, actually improve vision.
Effects of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Finding out that you have macular degeneration can be upsetting news. You may feel frightened and nervous. Will you go blind? How will you cope? Will you be able to live on your own? What about the hobbies and activities you have always enjoyed? Not being able to take part in the hobbies that you have engaged in can result in anger and sadness. Maybe you love to knit sweaters or perhaps tennis has always been your favorite way to unwind and relax from the stresses of everyday life. You may believe that nothing is better than a day at the ballpark watching your favorite baseball team beat their biggest rival. But to a sufferer of macular degeneration, these wonderful opportunities may be a thing of the past due to poor eyesight.
Those with macular degeneration quickly realize that one of the most important things in their lives – seeing the faces of their loved ones – is no longer possible. Being visually impaired robs them of the ability to clearly see things directly in front of them. Many macular degeneration patients say that the most devastating aspect of the condition is that they can no longer see faces or read facial expressions on other people. Simple tasks like writing checks, thumbing through the telephone directory, or reading a favorite novel may not just become tedious, but impossible. Even watching television may no longer be a relaxing activity. The blurry vision that age-related macular degeneration causes can prevent a sufferer from easily handling common chores and tasks and enjoying favorite pastimes. Most people would expect that a new prescription for glasses from an eye doctor would be the only thing needed to be back to normal with restored vision. Unfortunately, eyeglasses can’t undo the damage that age-related macular degeneration has already done to the eyes.
What Is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration can be mild or a debilitating eye disease that most often affects people who are 60 years of age or older. The macula is a section of the eye that contains a large number of cells that enable people to see fine details and color. When a person develops macular degeneration, the macula stops functioning properly and the individual is unable to see colors and details as well as he or she did before.
People who are in the earliest stages of macular degeneration may need more lighting to see things close up and fine print might become difficult to read. Eventually, grayish spots will cover the field of vision, making it very hard for the sufferer to clearly see things straight ahead. The peripheral vision is unaffected by macular degeneration.
Age-related macular degeneration is divided into two categories: dry and wet.
Dry macular degeneration is caused by fatty tissues called drusen building up beneath the retina. This type of age-related macular degeneration is the most common form of the disease. Wet macular degeneration causes abnormal blood vessels to form within the eye. According to the Macular Degeneration Foundation, between 85 and 90 percent of macular degeneration diagnoses are the dry form.
The Psychological Effects of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is a permanent condition so it isn’t a disease that will eventually go away or improve. Patients often feel lonely, isolated, and frustrated because no one else seems to understand what they are living through. This feeling of loneliness can lead to depression. One question most patients who have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration have is “Will I go blind?” Many sufferers fear that they will wake up one morning and see nothing but blackness. But this is not the case. Macular degeneration affects the central vision but does not harm the peripheral vision.
How to Prevent Visual Impairment from Macular Degeneration
While there is no way to reverse time and undo the damage that macular degeneration has caused, there are certain things that people can undertake before the condition begins to wreak havoc on the eyes.
Stop Smoking—If you are a smoker, you should make every attempt to quit. There appears to be a strong correlation between smoking and macular degeneration.
Lose Weight—If you are overweight, now is the time to start eating healthy and losing those extra pounds. Scientists believe there is a link between obesity and age-related macular degeneration.
Family History—Eye Doctors also believe that there are strong genetic components, with macular degeneration running in families. If a close relative like a parent, sibling, or grandparent has or had macular degeneration, you should do everything possible to keep yourself healthy. This includes eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, getting proper exercise, and watching your alcohol intake.
Eat Vegetables—A recent study has found that people should help themselves to more yellow vegetables. Research conducted by the University of Wisconsin found that women who ate a diet rich in yellow and green vegetables like corn, broccoli, spinach, and squash had lower incidences of age-related macular degeneration and better ocular health. Why? These foods contain nutrients that benefit macular degeneration and are chock full of carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, the pigments that give vegetables their vibrant color.
Vitamin Supplements for Macular Degeneration—The University of Wisconsin study wasn’t the only research that found advantages to certain foods. The National Eye Institute conducted the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS 2) and determined that high doses of vitamin C, E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and copper and zinc – vitamins and minerals are a benefit to eye health.
A Healthy Diet May Not Be Enough
Doctors say that it’s difficult to get the high doses of antioxidants needed to prevent macular degeneration from food alone. In that case, your best bet is a vitamin supplement for macular degeneration.
Regular Eye Exams
Patients in the earliest stages of eye diseases often exhibit no symptoms and are unaware of problems because they are not experiencing any loss of vision. Drusen may begin building up on the macula, but a person is not conscious of it. However, an eye care professional will be able to determine the drusen during a routine checkup when the eyes are fully dilated. Your ophthalmologist or optometrist should perform dilated eye exams every two to four years if you are between the ages of 40 and 64 or every one to two years for individuals 65 and older.
If there is a history of macular degeneration in your family, or if you or your eye doctor suspects that something is amiss, you may need dilated eye exams more frequently.
Low Vision Aids for Macular Degeneration
If your retina specialist discovers that you have age-related macular degeneration, please don’t panic. He or she will have some suggestions on low vision aids and low vision resources to help you deal with poor eyesight. In addition, there are a few things that you may help make macular degeneration a bit easier to deal with on a daily basis. These include:
Lighting – There are special lights on the market that can prevent glare and offer better lighting for the visually impaired.
Magnifiers – There are various types of magnifiers and optical devices available including hand magnifiers that you can hold or stand magnifiers that are mounted. You may have to try several different magnifiers before you find the one that works best for you and is the most comfortable to use. Magnifiers range in ability and price from the very simple and inexpensive to quite sophisticated and costly.
Large Print – If you discover that you can’t read books as well as you used to, check with your library or bookstore for large print editions. Also, if writing out checks is difficult, discuss this issue with your bank or credit union. Some of these organizations offer large print checks.
Books on Tape or CD – Tens of thousands of books are now available for people on tape, CD, and reading apps such as Audible.com.
Reading Machines – Readers can be installed on a computer so that the information on the screen is “read aloud” to the user.
If you are diagnosed with a retinal disease like macular degeneration, it is very important that you realize you are not alone. Your eye doctor may have suggestions to help you adapt to the issues that age-related macular degeneration causes. Scientific evidence has shown that everyone with this disease should take a vitamin supplement for macular degeneration. Additionally, there are many different low vision aids, magnifiers and optical devices, and other resources available for the visually impaired.
It is important that you see your eye specialist often, especially if your eyesight is worsening or if you suspect a problem.