With age, various health issues come knocking on our door as uninvited guests and become a part and parcel of our existence. Most of our organs become weak and less functional as compared to our youthful years. Regardless of how healthy a lifestyle we lead, certain health issues are inevitable – one among them being macular degeneration. In this article, we will cover this health issue that affects our vision adversely and how consuming certain vitamins and supplements can better help to manage symptoms.
What Is Macular Degeneration
The macula inside our eye, which is the central, most sensitive portion of the retina, aids us in central vision helping us to see clearly the fine details when we drive, read, recognize faces, distinguish colors, etc. So, when the functioning of the macula lessens owing to certain factors, our clarity of vision reduces and this sometimes leads to even vision loss. At the initial stages, one may not experience vision loss but a definitive reduction in clarity will be observed, and as the issue advances dire and irreversible consequences may occur affecting the vision. In cases where only one eye has affected the disease mostly goes unnoticed as the good eye does the work for both eyes.
Macular degeneration can be classified as dry AMD and wet AMD. The majority of the cases of macular degeneration are of the former type which is atrophic whereas the less common is of the latter type which is exudative but since it causes sudden vision loss this can be more disconcerting. Macular degeneration advances from early, intermediate to late-stage by which time complete vision loss may occur. In certain cases, owing to recessive genes young people also get affected by this disease and it is known as Stargardt disease.
Causes And Symptoms
Various studies are still underway as to what exactly causes macular degeneration but certain people pose more risk as has been the findings according to statistical records. One of the main causes that leads to this disease is age. Most often found in those who are 55 and above, this disease is said to be incurable at present. Other factors that may lead to macular degeneration may include:
- Environmental aspects may cause this disease to occur in some people.
- Genetics plays a role as those with a family history of having this disease are more likely to contract this over the years.
- People of a certain race are more susceptible to this disease like Caucasians.
- Another factor that increases the risk of this disease is smoking.
- Obese people are also more likely to get this disease in their lifetime.
- People with cardiovascular diseases also stand a chance as compared to those with a healthy heart.
Symptoms of macular degeneration may include:
- A common tell-tale sign of this disease is most often a blurry vision while reading or driving.
- You may notice dark areas in central vision.
- Inability to distinguish between colors.
- Feeling the need for a brighter light source for increased clarity of vision.
- Unable to recognize faces.
- A distorted vision where straight lines seem bent.
- Difficulty to see clearly in dimly lit areas.
Vitamins And Supplements To Be Taken
Various studies conducted over the subject of macular degeneration have proven that taking vitamins and supplements can help considerably lower the progression of this disease and help avert vision loss. Along with the intake of supplements high in antioxidants and vitamins, consuming a balanced diet as well as limiting or putting an end to the smoking habit both work in favor of altering the progression of this disease. High-risk people have to take these supplements on a daily basis especially those that have intermediate AMD in one of the two eyes or both; or those having advanced AMD in any one eye. As per the doctor’s recommendation, supplements for macular degeneration should include the below in sufficient quantity and should be consumed on a daily basis for best results:
- 400 IUs of vitamin E
- 10 mg of lutein
- 2mg of zeaxanthin
- 500 mg of vitamin C
- 80 mg of zinc oxide
- 2 mg of cupric oxide
In order to garner the best results from supplements, one needs to take a good look at the labels on supplement bottles before making a purchase as the supplements produced by some companies may not contain a sufficient quantity of vital ingredients. Another factor to be mindful of while purchasing supplements is to ensure that it contains lutein and zeaxanthin to suffice the required carotenoid dosage instead of beta carotene, as opposed to initial clinical recommendations. The reason behind this being that beta carotene, when present in larger amounts, increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
Antioxidants To Combat Macular Degeneration
Along with the consumption of supplements, doctors also highly stress upon the intake of a balanced diet – especially those rich in antioxidants. Some of the food rich in antioxidants are as below:
- Green leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, cabbage, asparagus avocados, beetroot, radish, kale, etc.
- Fruits like apples, cranberries, raspberries, red grapes, strawberries, red currants, cherries, etc
- Dried fruits like figs, prunes, dates, and raisins.
- Nuts like hazelnuts, pecans, cashew nuts, pistachio, almonds, macadamia, etc
- Beans like black beans, red kidney beans, small red beans, pinto beans.
- Spices like cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, mustard seeds, pepper, paprika powder, etc.
- Herbs like oregano, parsley, basil, thyme, sage, dill weed, etc.
- Cold beverages like tomato juice, apple juice, pomegranate juice and pink grapefruit juice.
- Hot beverages like green tea, black tea. coffee in moderation is also a good source of antioxidants.
Other Measures To Be Taken
Adopting certain measures may help reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration. These are as follows:
- Avoid smoking as it is beneficial to one’s overall health in the long run in ways more than one.
- Exercise regularly and adopt a healthy lifestyle keeping a check on one’s weight.
- Those suffering from cardiovascular diseases should take their medicines regularly and on time, as ignoring the same could worsen macular degeneration.
- Make seafood consumption a part of your healthy diet plan as the omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
- Consume lots of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
One may not in their lifetime be able to completely stop the occurrence of macular degeneration especially those who pose a greater risk of contracting the disease owing to factors as mentioned above. However, the condition can always be managed and the progression of the disease can be reduced to a great amount if one remains mindful of one’s overall health. After the age of 30, generally, people are recommended to pay routine visits to the doctor to conduct necessary check-ups in order to make sure all is well within one’s body. Come 40, and eye-related problems make inevitable appearances in all our lives. So, the more caution we practice and take care of our eyes and overall health, the better will be our livelihood in the later stages of our existence. Befriend your eye-doctor and rest assured for he will be able to best guide and support you in your journey with macular degeneration.