"I don`t think there`s any doubt we have an epidemic", asserts Dr. Paul Beaumont, an ophthalmologist with the Macular Degeneration Foundation. He has seen a tenfold increase of AMD in the last 30 years.
What Macular Degeneration Is
Like cancer, macular degeneration develops slowly. AMD progressively affects the macula. The macula is located in the center of the retina, which is inside of the eyeball sending signals through the optic nerve to the brain. The macula is responsible for focusing central vision.
A lack of focus makes it difficult to see well straight ahead while retaining decent peripheral vision. Retina and macula cells deteriorate when the tiny blood vessels in the eye become damaged or clogged. Cellular nourishment, oxygenation, and waste removal become clogged. Then the cone cells in the macula lutea wither and die. Blindness is not sudden, but impaired vision is.
Early symptoms include blurred straight ahead vision with intact peripheral vision, wavy lines when viewing a grid, poor color discrimination, and extreme sensitivity to glare, making it difficult to see well in bright light or to switch focus from bright to dark. The most serious symptom is central scotoma. Central scotoma is a gray, black, or blind spot in the middle of one`s vision. Some levels of advanced macular degeneration can exhibit more than one scotoma.
There are two basic forms of macular degeneration: Wet and dry. Wet AMD occurs when eyeball blood vessels are poorly formed or damaged and bleed internally. This is when serious scotomas are likely to occur. Dry AMD is less serious. Little yellow spots called drusens are observed on the eye. They are lipids formed from waste materials. With soft drusens there is no or little impaired vision. Hard drusens herald early AMD vision problems.
Sunglasses, especially blue blockers, are recommended to ease glare and UV rays into the eyes. Exercise helps the blood flow while increasing oxygen levels in those blood cells. Oxygen is the most important nutrient of all for eliminating waste and metabolizing other nutrients. There are supplements available that directly oxygenate the blood.
For eye health, another important nutrient is lutein. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids that make up the macular pigment, which protects the macula from ultra-violet and blue light. AMD victims have low macular lutein density, so lutein supplements are helpful.
Since some of the macular damage is from oxidative stress, anti-oxidant supplements and foods should be a major part of one`s diet. Leafy greens with purple and red fruits (organic) should be a major part of one`s diet. Omega-3 is also essential for eye health.
Previously, smoking was considered the main cause of AMD. Now Dr. Beaumont is convinced that cheap trans-fatty acid oils and poly-unsaturated rancid oils are the major factor for AMD`s alarming rise. Beaumont also points out that oils and fatty acids comprise most of our eyes` material.
Most processed foods contain the bad oils also sold for cooking and salad dressings. Shift to healthy virgin cold pressed vegetable and coconut oils. This will help protect your eyes as well as improve your overall health.
Sources for more information include:
Web Nurse Comprehensive AMD Coverage http://www.webrn-maculardegeneratio...
Bruce Fife, N.D.
VA Nutritional Study for AREDS and AMD