Age related macular degeneration usually affects older adults and results in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field. It’s due to damage to the retina. Macular degeneration can make it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life.
- Aging: About 10% of people 66 to 74 years of age will have some evidence of macular degeneration. It’s 30% in patients 75 to 85 years old.
- Family history: For someone who has a relative with it, the risk of developing late-stage macular degeneration is 50%. It is only 12% for others.
- High blood pressure plays a role in MD.
- High cholesterol, obesity, and high fat intake are associated with an increased risk of MD.
- Smoking increases the risk of MD by two to three times that of someone who has never smoked, and may be the most important modifiable factor in its prevention.
- Reducing fat intake: This means cutting down greatly on red meats and high-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, and butter, and eating more cold-water fish (at least twice a week); eating any type of nuts may help.
- Nutritional supplements: Some evidence supports increasing intake of two carotenoids: lutein and zeaxanthin. Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids has been correlated with a reduced progression of early macular degeneration.
- Adaptive devices: These help people read and include everything from magnifying glasses to computer software.
- Audio books: are also helpful.
- Reverse print: Written material with white text on a dark background is easier to read for people with macular degeneration.
This article was originally published in Pathways Residential Care Journal - Issue 5. To download this issue in PDF format, or past issues, visit our newsletter archives online at www.pathwayshealth.org/publications.