Macular Degeneration Self-Care Tips to Manage Symptoms and Eye Health

macular degeneration self-care

Key Takeaways:

  • Macular degeneration is one of the most common eye disorders affecting central vision and can lead to vision loss.
  • While macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease, you can slow its progression with early detection and proper self-care.
  • Eye supplements and healthy lifestyle modifications can help slow down the progression of macular degeneration.

 

Early detection of macular degeneration is important in slowing down its progression. On top of that, anyone managing this very common eye disorder must be aware of the best macular degeneration self-care practices to preserve their central vision.

What vitamins are good for macular degeneration? What foods should you avoid with macular degeneration? These are just some of the questions we will cover in this article to help you come up with a proactive approach to managing its symptoms.

 

What Is Macular Degeneration?

 

Also known as age-related macular degeneration, this chronic eye disease mainly affects the central vision. While younger people can develop this eye disorder, there is a higher risk of macular degeneration among people ages 55 and up.

But first, what is the central vision? It refers to the part of the human visual field that is focused on when looking directly at an object. It is essential as people use it to read and see objects. Having good central vision means a person can look at details sharply and clearly.

What is the leading cause of macular degeneration? Damage to the macula is the primary cause of AMD.

The macula is a tiny part of the retina in the back of the eye. Although the macula only measures about 5mm, it comprises cells acting as photoreceptors. These cells are highly sensitive to light and are responsible for sending signals to the brain, where light is processed into images. Simply put, the macula is crucial in having a sharp central vision.

The macula becomes prone to damage as people age. When retinal tissue gets worn out, blood vessels become less capable of carrying nutrients into the macula. This also slows down the removal of waste products, allowing yellow deposits called drusen to accumulate in the retina.

These changes make macular degeneration more likely to develop as people get older. Although it’s uncommon for this disease to cause complete blindness, macular degeneration causes serious vision problems.

How vision looks with macular degeneration can differ depending on how much the disease has progressed. It can vary from blurry vision to blind spots in your central vision. The latter could affect your ability to see objects in front of you.

While it’s unlikely to lead to blindness, changes caused by macular degeneration can make simple daily tasks more challenging. The vision loss caused by AMD can make it harder to read (even with glasses), drive, and do simple home repairs.

 

Dry AMD vs. Wet AMD: How Are They Different?

 

Dry AMD vs. Wet AMD

 

A key characteristic of AMD is that it can progress over time, especially without proper macular degeneration self-care habits. To determine the best way to manage this eye disorder, it’s essential to understand the two types of macular degeneration: dry AMD and wet AMD.

 

Dry Macular Degeneration (Dry AMD)

 

Most cases of macular degeneration are dry AMD. This type of macular degeneration is generally caused by a thinning macula and accumulated drusen or yellow deposits in the retina.

This type of AMD can happen in three stages — early, intermediate, and late — although it can typically take several years for dry AMD to progress.

 

Wet Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD)

 

On top of age-related damage to the macula and drusen accumulation, abnormal blood vessel growth can lead to wet macular degeneration. It’s always considered a late-stage condition and may cause faster vision loss.

 

Macular Degeneration Signs and Symptoms

 

Symptoms don’t usually appear in the early stage of dry macular degeneration. You can develop intermediate dry AMD without noticeable symptoms, but mild changes in your vision can be present at this stage. Signs of macular degeneration are more apparent and serious in late dry AMD and wet AMD.

 

Dry AMD Common Symptoms

  • Blurry and/or hazy vision
  • Difficulty seeing in low-light conditions
  • Colors appear dull or less vivid
  • Blurry or dark spots in the central vision that get larger over time

Signs of Wet Macular Degeneration

  • Central vision loss
  • Straight lines appear crooked or wavy
  • Rapid development of blind spots
  • Trouble seeing faces
  • Objects can appear farther and/or smaller than their actual distance and size

The loss of central vision and other symptoms caused by macular degeneration can make it much harder to perform daily tasks. People with severe AMD symptoms may find reading, driving, and doing small home repairs challenging.

 

How Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?

 

Currently, there is no specific macular degeneration test to detect the disease. But there’s still a chance to detect potential risks of macular degeneration through regular eye checkups.

Aside from getting your medical history, your eye doctor may perform several tests to diagnose macular degeneration. These may include:

  • The visual acuity test determines how well you can see texts and symbols at different distances.
  • Dilated eye test is where the eye doctor puts drops to dilate the pupil, allowing your doctor to check on the condition of your retina.
  • Visual field test, which examines your central vision using the Amsler grid to determine whether straight lines appear wavy in your vision. People with age-related macular degeneration are commonly advised to perform this test daily at home.
  • Fluorescein angiography is extremely helpful in detecting wet macular degeneration. The eye doctor will inject a special dye into a vein in your arm and use a special camera to inspect the blood vessels in the retina closely.

 

Macular Degeneration Self-Care: Managing Eye Health at Home

 

Do you want to improve your eye health? Follow these foolproof tips.

 

1. Know What Vitamin Supplements Can Help

 

It is well-established that age is a major risk factor for macular degeneration. So, upon reaching a certain age, adding the right vitamins and supplements to your routine can do wonders for overall eye health.

Whether you have age-related macular degeneration or are simply taking a proactive approach, Age-Related Eye Disease Studies 2 or AREDS2 supplements provide fantastic support for your vision.

What makes AREDS2 supplements an amazing component for macular degeneration self-care? The research primarily involved clinical trials over 10 years, testing the effect of specific antioxidant vitamins and minerals in staving off the progression of age-related macular degeneration.

The AREDS2 supplement formula used in the research included:

  • Vitamin C – 500 mg
  • Vitamin E – 400 IU
  • Copper (cupric oxide) – 2 mg
  • Lutein – 10 mg
  • Zeaxanthin – 2 mg
  • Zinc – 80 mg

The supplement was more effective than the first AREDS formula, which contained beta-carotene instead of lutein and zeaxanthin. The risk of progression to late-stage AMD was also reduced by 20% with the AREDS2 supplement.

 

2. Healthy Diet for Sharper Vision

 

Healthy Diet for Sharper Vision

 

If age-related macular degeneration is a chief health concern, there are certain foods that you must have in your diet. Try to consume more leafy greens rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, such as broccoli, kale, and spinach.

You’ll also benefit from eating more fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, mackerel, cod, and sardine are some of the best options.

It’s also important to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels when managing AMD. So you may want to avoid processed foods, saturated fats, and red meat.

 

3. More Active Lifestyle

 

Making exercise a part of your routine has a long list of benefits for your health. Regular physical activity can be a huge help to maintain a healthy weight and keep blood pressure under control.

Your daily exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply going on daily walks can make a huge difference. Remember that regular light exercise is way better than not having any physical activity.

 

4. Quit Smoking

 

Cigarette smoking has been linked to age-related macular degeneration. According to the FDA, smoking can increase the risk of AMD by up to four times compared to individuals who don’t smoke.

One study also concluded that smoking “strongly increased” the risk of late AMD, especially for people who smoke while consuming less fatty fish and have lower levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

So you may be able to lower the risks of developing AMD, especially late AMD, when you quit smoking. If you already have AMD, ditching this harmful habit can still be beneficial and may help slow down the progression of the eye disease before it leads to vision loss.

 

5. Shield Your Eyes From Too Much UV Exposure

 

Shield Your Eyes From Too Much UV Exposure

 

A little sunshine is great for your overall health and well-being. However, too much UV exposure can also cause damage to your eyes in the long run.

Like with the skin, excessive UV exposure may induce oxidative stress and damage your eyes. And that’s something you should avoid when trying to slow down the progression of macular degeneration.

It’s best to avoid spending too much time outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. or wear broad sunglasses when going out. For the best protection from UV light, opt for sunglasses rated UV 400.

 

What Is the Best Treatment for Macular Degeneration?

 

Although there is no cure yet for macular degeneration, there are several treatment options for those who have late AMD to avoid or slow down further vision loss.

One of the most common treatments for wet AMD is through anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medications like Pegaptanib or Ranibizumab. These are administered through eye injections to stop abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eyes.

Procedures like laser surgery and photodynamic therapy can also remove extra blood vessels or seal leaky blood vessels.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is Macular Degeneration Hereditary?

 

Genetics is also a risk factor for macular degeneration. A 2013 research showed that AMD appears to be hereditary, particularly among people of Asian and European descent. Someone with a parent who has this eye disorder is more likely to develop macular degeneration as well.

 

Can You Live a Normal Life With Macular Degeneration?

 

As mentioned, the most common type of AMD progresses gradually over several years. And not all cases of dry AMD advance into wet AMD, too. So with the proper self-care habits and treatments, you can still lead a normal life with macular degeneration.

If you’re already experiencing some symptoms of AMD, using low vision aids can be helpful to make reading, identifying street signs, and other activities easier.

Those already experiencing some extent of vision loss due to AMD may face difficulties at first. However, low vision rehabilitation is a great therapy option to help them learn new strategies to stay independent and retain as many daily activities as possible.

 

Be Proactive With the Best Macular Degeneration Self-Care Practices at Home

 

Once you reach the age that puts you at a higher risk of developing macular degeneration, it’s time to get proactive in maintaining eye health. Start by having regular eye checkups and pay closer attention to your diet and physical activity.

However, even with macular degeneration, you can still have a fruitful life by adopting the best self-care methods. Taking the best eye supplements, maintaining a healthy diet, keeping active, and cutting out harmful habits like smoking can tremendously support your eye health.

 

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ABOUT AUTHOR
John Riedl

Simply put that’s why I’ve gone down the health journey of research and creating health brands.

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