Macular degeneration is a condition in which the macula (the part of the retina responsible for sharp reading vision) fails to function efficiently. It is a common cause of impaired reading or detailed vision—the leading cause of blindness worldwide, in fact. Macular degeneration is generally age-related and there can be genetic risk.  Smoking and UV exposure as well as poor nutrition can be risk factors as well.

Symptoms: Initial signs include blurred reading vision, a weakening of color vision, distortion or loss of central vision (e.g., a dark spot in the middle of your field of vision), and distortion in vertical lines.

Treatment: Although there is no cure, Avastin or Lucentis injections into the eye and laser treatment can be effective in slowing the progression of wet AMD. AREDS 2 nutritional supplimentation can slow the progression of advancing dry AMD. As usual, early detection and AREDS 2 supplimentation is the key.

Prevention: Lifelong UV protection is very important. General nutrition is also believed to play a significant preventative role. A diet rich in antioxidants, zeaxanthin and lutein, and leafy greens is considered helpful. However, an over-abundance of any vitamin may affect your body’s ability to absorb important nutrients. This is a matter of some debate among health care professionals. Before you start on any eye vitamens it is best to discuss this with your primary care provider, your optometrist and your pharmacist. Smokers or former smokers or those with a history of smoke or asbestos exposure must be especially cautious about supplimentation with beta carotene, which has been linked to increased incidence of lung cancer. 

All content is provided for education and information, and is no substitute for the advice of your optometrist. This information is provided courtesy of the British Columbia Association of Optometrists (B.C.A.O.). The B.C.A.O. assumes no responsibility or liability arising from any errors or omissions or from the use of any information contained herein.