Age-Related Macular Disease or AMD is an acquired ocular disorder that occurs in people over sixty years of age. It is the leading cause of vision loss in the US. This eye disease affects the central part of retina known as the macula and destroys it through retinal detachment. Macula is responsible for providing sharp and clear central vision that is required for reading, writing and other visually demanding activities such as driving, stitching etc. The risk of AMD increases with age.
The severity and nature of AMD differs from one person to the other. Many experience some or full degree of loss of central vision in one or both the eyes. As AMD progresses, it diminishes the ability of the individual to read, write, walk or drive safely, even recognize faces and perform everyday tasks. Around 90% of AMD patients have a non-exudative or dry form of the disease that results in the development of dry, atrophic scars in the macular area. These patients experience slower, more gradual loss of vision. The other 10% develop an exudative or wet form – this results in the leaking of fluid beneath the retina, with a greater and more rapid loss of central vision.
Apart from aging, other risk factors include family history, poor diet, cardiovascular disease, obesity, lack of physical exercise, smoking, and high blood pressure.
How Can You Prevent AMD through Nutrition
There are studies that prove that diet, not just supplements, can greatly help in preventing AMD. Diets with above-median levels of beta-carotene, which includes lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamins C and E, and zinc have been associated with a 35% reduced risk for the disease. Additionally, food sources that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are also highly effective. Incorporating plenty of green leafy vegetables along with fish is highly recommended to prevent AMD.
Let us look at some food sources to obtain the necessary nutrients:
- Veggies and fruits with carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin) and vitamin C: Broccoli, peaches, kale, apricots, pumpkin flower, carrots, mangoes, bell peppers, tangerines, cantaloupe, avocado, spinach, grapefruit, blueberries, green peas, honeydew, collards.
- Foods high in vitamin E: Tofu, almonds, sunflower seed kernels, fortified soymilk, peanuts, turnip greens, canned tomato products, wheat-germ oil, sunflower oil, fortified cereals
- Foods that provide zinc: Whole-wheat and buckwheat flours, lamb, fortified cereal, dark meat poultry, Alaskan king crab, pork, pumpkin seeds, lean beef, dried beans, bulgur
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids: Salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, sardines, lake trout, herring
Decelerating the Progression of AMD
Though most dietary supplements cannot completely prevent AMD, they can definitely slow down its progression in those who are already suffering from the disease. High levels of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper from supplements are known to reduce the risk of progression to advanced AMD by 25% after 5 years. The effect persisted for another 5 years of follow-up after the study.
Things to Do
Follow a diet that provides carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamins C and E, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. Not only will it boost your health but also help in preventing AMD. If you have a family history of AMD, consult with your doctors regarding the supplements you need. Make necessary lifestyle changes – quit smoking, exercise regularly, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels at acceptable levels.
If anyone over the age 60 in your family is suffering from vision problems, get it checked immediately at InSight Vision Center. Make sure they follow the right diet and ea nutritious food to prevent AMD or reduce the speed of its progression.