Open Your Eyes – Ocular Health Is Important! One of the most common traits of aging is diminishing eyesight. What many of us fail to realize is that Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of blindness among Americans today. When our vision starts to fail us, many just write it off as “getting old.” Without adequate care in terms of treatment, reduction of aggravating factors and the provision of essential nutrients, ARMD can rapidly escalate causing irreversible damage to your eyes which can ultimately result in blindness.
So What Is Macular Degeneration? Macular degeneration is a medical condition in which the light sensing cells in the eye malfunction and, over time, cease to work. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it is the leading cause of central vision loss (blindness) in the United States for those over the age of fifty years. There are two basic types of the disease: Standard Macular Degeneration (MD) and Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD), with ARMD being the most common form of the condition. Macular degeneration which is not age related is most commonly caused by an inherited condition. MD results in missing or blurred vision in the central, reading part of vision. The outer, peripheral art of the vision remains intact.
-Aging: Approximately 10% of patients aged between 66 and 74 will show signs of MD. The prevalence increases to 30% in patients aged between 75 and 85.
-Smoking: The only environmental exposure clearly associated with MD is tobacco smoking.
-Family history: The lifetime risk of developing late-stage MD is 50% for people who have a relative with MD versus 12% for people who do not have relatives with MD.
-Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
-Cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol and obesity.
-High fat intake.
Symptoms of MD include:
-Shadows or missing areas of vision.
-Trouble discerning colors; specifically dark ones from dark ones and light ones from light ones.
-Slow recovery of visual function after exposure to bright light.
The consumption of fruits and vegetables containing two carotenoid pigments has been linked to a reduced risk for ARMD. Carotenoids are phytochemicals (chemicals found in plants) commonly found in certain fruits and vegetables that are red, orange and yellow in color. Research has shown that lutein and zeaxanthin comprise a component of the central region of the retina and may play a role in some aspects of visual acuity. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found primarily in broccoli, corn, squash and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. Researchers theorize that these nutrients protect the eye in two ways: by absorbing harmful blue light from the sun’s rays and by acting as antioxidants that neutralize free radicals.