Knowing Age Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is one of the leading cause of severe and irreversible vision impairment in developed and developing countries. According to research, it is estimated that 1.75 million people are suffering from age-related macular degeneration in at least one eye and it is expected to increase to nearly 3 million by the year 2020.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a serious eye disorder which affects the macula, the tiny part of the retina. The macula is located near the center of the retina and is responsible for providing a sharp and clear vision to an individual. Age-related macular degeneration is responsible for a large number of cases of vision loss. It typically affects the central vision which is necessary for reading, watching, and recognizing people. Age-related macular degeneration is of two types:
1. Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration - It is the most common type of AMD which accounts to almost 90% of the total AMD cases Dry AMD affects one or both eye, and it occurs when the macula becomes thin or break down and causes problems with central vision, affects colors, and sometimes it could lead to vision loss. Many time, when dry AMD affects one eye, symptoms can remain unnoticed.
2. Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration - It is a severe form of AMD and it significantly affects the vision of a person. Wet AMD occurs when there is a leakage of fluid under the macula which causes rapid vision loss. The symptoms that occur in this type appears quickly.
The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina, located at the back of the eye. The quality of life of a person suffering from age-related macular degeneration is significantly impaired. It is associated with a wide range of symptoms but it may differ from person to person. Usually, changes in the ability to see are the initial symptoms for most of the patients. Some other symptoms that may occur when a patient having age-related macular degeneration include:
- Difficulty with reading even while wearing normal reading glasses.
- Straight lines start to look wavy
- Loss of clearance in the vision.
- Appearance of dark spots.
Stages Of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration has three stages which are categorized on the size and the number of drusens (deposits under the retina).
Stage 1 - It is known as early age-related macular degeneration, in which AMD is diagnosed with medium-sized drusens and at this stage, a patient generally does not experience vision loss.
Stage 2 - It is known as intermediate age-related macular degeneration, in which AMD is diagnosed with large sized drusens and certain changes in the retina. Many people do not experience any symptom, but there is a risk of vision loss at this stage.
Stage 3 - It is known as late age-related macular degeneration, in which AMD is diagnosed with large sized drusens and at this stage patient experience vision loss due to complete damage to the macula.
Although the age-related macular degeneration can’t be prevented completely, there are many risk factors that are modifiable. Some of the modifiable risk factors for age-related macular degeneration are as follows:
Cigarette smoking is one of the modifiable risk factors for a large number of diseases, including age-related macular degeneration. Evidence suggests that smoking is closely related to the risk of developing AMD. According to the Rotterdam study, the higher the packed years smoked, the higher the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
Multiple researchers have suggested that smoking is highly toxic to the retina. There are thousands of chemicals or components present in cigarette smoke, one of which is nicotine. Nicotine is one of the most harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke which have hazardous effects on the body. Nicotine has a harmful effect on the vascular smooth muscle cells which triggers the development of AMD.
Body Mass Index
High body mass index is another modifiable factor which has long been linked to the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Body mass index is a tool to know the fat in the body. High body mass index indicates the development of the disease, known as obesity. Obesity is a metabolic disorder which is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the body resulting from the imbalance between calorie intake and energy expenditure.
Multiple studies have been conducted to investigate the correlation between body mass index and the development of age-related macular degeneration. The relationship between body mass index and retinal levels or macular pigment optical density was found. Therefore, taking measures to reduce body mass index, decreases the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
Consumption of alcohol
Alcohol consumption has a strong relationship with the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. According to the Beaver Dam Eye Study, the link between beer consumption and the risk of age-related macular degeneration was identified. The risk of developing this eye disorder largely depends on consumption, excessive consumption is associated with high-level damage to the macula.
Various studies have identified an association between dietary fat and advanced age-related macular degeneration. Dietary pattern of an individual is strongly associated with the risk of developing AMD, there are certain foods that are known to increase the risk of the development, while there are some foods that are known to decrease the risk of development. Foods that have high trans unsaturated fat increases the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration, whereas, on the other hand, foods that have a high level of omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to provide a protective effect against the development of age-related macular degeneration.
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