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What are Warning Signs of Macular Degeneration ?

The American Optometric Association recommends annual eye exams for people over 60, says AARP’s recent article entitled “3 Warning Signs of Macular Degeneration.”

During an eye exam, your doctor will examine the macula for what’s known as drusen—yellow deposits of fats and proteins. Some small drusen are to be expected with age and don’t cause vision loss.

However, medium-sized or larger ones are a classic sign of AMD.

Regular visits with an ophthalmologist can detect AMD years before patients notice anything is a miss.  Early detection of changes can lead to treatments that can slow progression or reverse vision loss in some AMD cases.

Research says taking certain high-dose vitamins and minerals slows progression of the disease in people with intermediate AMD and those with late-stage AMD in one eye. These include:

  • Vitamin C;
  • Vitamin E;
  • Zinc;
  • Lutein;
  • Zeaxanthin; and

However, don’t go loading up on these vitamins and minerals with reckless abandon.

Supplements known as AREDS2 are sold over the counter in specific quantities. Ask your eye doctor about whether such high-dose supplements are a good choice for you.

“Wet AMD is treated with the same AREDS2 vitamins as dry AMD, but also with injections of medications into the eye to treat the leaking blood vessels,” says Akrit Sodhi, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Medicine. These medications help reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels in your retina. They also slow leakage. “Currently, these treatments are focused on stopping progression of disease, but good treatments that reverse damage are still in the works.”

Lifestyle also plays a role in treating macular degeneration, and reducing exposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses, avoiding cigarette smoke, eating a healthy diet and getting annual eye exams can help lower the risk that you develop vision loss from AMD as you age.

Reference: AARP (Oct. 27, 2022) “3 Warning Signs of Macular Degeneration”