Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

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Head ShotBBy Kevin A. Rogers, OD, Rogers Regional Eye Center
As you can see by the name, the primary risk factor of AMD is age, particularly over age 50. Caucasian women are the most common demographic; family medical history and having lighter colored hair, skin and eyes play a large role as well. However, several lifestyle factors have been shown to cause an increase in AMD development; so there may be ways to reduce your risk, even if you have a genetic predisposition.  
Characterized by the deterioration of the central area of the retina called the macula, which is responsible for focused vision, the disease gradually reduces your central vision. This affects the ability to see fine details, recognize faces, read, drive, watch television and even use a computer. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in the older population and the numbers are expected to increase as we continue to live longer. 
Here are 4 ways to help prevent AMD and the vision loss that accompanies it:
1. Stop Smoking
Smoking has been shown to significantly increase your risks of developing AMD to between 2-5 times the risk of non-smokers!   
2. Choose a Healthy Diet
A diet rich in antioxidants has been shown to protect against AMD.  Antioxidants can be found in abundance in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale and collard greens.
3. Use UV and Blue Light Protection
Long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun and blue light (from digital devices among other things) has been linked to AMD. Make sure you wear sunglasses and wear blue light blocking glasses when you are viewing a digital device or computer for extended periods of time. 
4. Take Supplements
Certain nutritional supplements have been shown to slow the progression of AMD. This formula of supplements was developed from a 10 year study called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and its successor AREDS2. 
During your yearly comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will screen for early signs of AMD and recommend treatment if it’s detected. If you’re at greater risk additional testing may be necessary.