Macular Degeneration affects central, detailed vision and is the leading cause of blindness in Australia. It is an age related condition and the risk increases with age. Macular Degeneration may present as either dry (atrophic) or wet (neovascular).
How to recognise Macular Degeneration:
- Slow (dry) or sudden (wet), painless loss of central vision
- Blurred vision
- Straight objects may appear distorted or bent
- Ability to see fine details becomes difficult
- Dark spot near or around centre of visual field
What causes Macular Degeneration?
- Advancing age
- A possible genetic link
- Dry Macular Degeneration is the most common form, where degenerative changes occur in the layer of cells (retinal pigment epithelium) beneath the retina
- Wet Macular Degeneration occurs when the retinal pigment epithelium fails to stop blood vessels from growing into the retina
- Free radical damage and oxidative stress
- Poor oxygen and nutrient supply in combination with poor clearance of waste products in the retina
How do I prevent Macular Degeneration?
- Regular eye and macula checks from the age of 50
- Give up smoking
- Decrease exposure to environmental toxins – internally and externally
- Increase consumption of fresh fruits, including berries and vegetables, especially those that are orange or yellow coloured
- Reduce trans fats (found in many processed foods) and incorporate fish, legumes, nuts and seeds into your diet
- Regular exercise and weight management for a healthy lifestyle
- Make sure your office chair allows you to sit comfortably at your computer, being able to see the screen without stressing your neck.
What else can I do to help preventMacular Degeneration?Naturopathic recommendations to assist in the prevention and treatment of Macular Degeneration include:
- Antioxidants: particularly lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins C and E, betacarotene, selenium, zinc and copper all help to protect the eye from oxidative stress and free radical damage
- Bilberry, standardised for anthocyanosides, helps improve microcirculation to the eye, regenerate visual pigments in the retina, assists night vision and helps relieve eye strain and fatigue
- Ginkgo is potent antioxidant and helps increase circulation to the retina
- Grapeseed is a potent antioxidant that helps reduce photophobia and improve night vision
- Omega-3 fatty acids high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may be of significant benefit in prevention and early treatment of Macular Degeneration