Find out what you can do to reduce your risk

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative disease that happens when part of the retina called the macula is damaged. The macula is the part of the eye that delivers the sharp, central vision we need to see objects straight ahead. Over time, the loss of central vision can interfere with everyday activities, such as the ability to drive, read, and see faces clearly. AMD is a sneak thief that can begin to rob you of vision before you’re aware it’s there.

Since February is AMD Awareness Month, Atlantic Eye joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Prevent to remind our patients to be wary of this stealthy vision stealer. Here are some factors that may put you at increased risk for AMD:

• Family history of AMD
• Aging – those over 60 years old
• Race – Caucasians have a higher rate of AMD
• Sex – females have a higher rate of AMD (maybe because they live longer)
• Light colored eyes
• Smoking doubles your risk of AMD
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• High cholesterol
• Obesity
• High sun exposure
• Poor diet – with low intake of antioxidants

With or without specific risk factors, everyone is at risk for age-related macular degeneration. But there are things you can do to reduce your overall risk:

1. Quit smoking.

2. Eat a well-balanced diet. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-packed foods, such as salmon and nuts, may reduce the risk of AMD. Fresh fish, an important source of omega-3s, also lowers risk of developing the disease.

3. Take the right kind of vitamins. Vitamins can delay progression of advanced AMD and help people keep their vision longer if they have intermediate AMD or advanced AMD in one eye. Talk with your ophthalmologist about which brands have been proven effective in clinical trials.

4. Find out how to reduce your risk of AMD. Exercising three times a week can reduce the risk of developing wet AMD by 70 percent. Studies also show that physical activity may lower the odds of both early and late-stages of AMD.

5. Monitor your sight with an Amsler grid. Ask your Atlantic Eye ophthalmologist about this simple test you can do at home.

6. Know your family’s eye health history. If you have a close relative with AMD, you have a 50 percent greater chance of developing the condition.

7. Get regular, comprehensive medical eye exams, starting at least by age 40.

Our ophthalmologists at Atlantic Eye have more tools than ever before to diagnose AMD earlier and treat it better. If you’re 40 or older and haven’t had a baseline eye disease screening, call us for an appointment today.