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Home » What's New » Age Related Macular Degeneration and Your Central Vision

Age Related Macular Degeneration and Your Central Vision

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We all know why we need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen in the summer. Winter, however, can be deceiving. It's an illusion to assume that we are safe from sunburns during the colder season.

Snow acts as a powerful mirror for sunlight and magnifies the effects of UV rays which would otherwise be absorbed by the ground. As a result, the eyes are exposed to both the UV radiation bouncing back from the snowy carpet and the rays shining down directly from the sun.





If your family is skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, you need to be even more careful! UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes. Another important factor to remember is that ultraviolet radiation penetrates through clouds, so even if the sun is hidden behind them, it can still damage your eyes.

Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet radiation when you go outside, no matter what time of year it is. Even though you want to look great in your shades, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Make sure the lenses are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. The good news is you don't necessarily have to pay more for full coverage for your eyes. Dozens of reasonably priced options exist that still provide total ultraviolet protection.

Another important factor in selecting sun wear is the size of the lenses. You want to make sure your glasses cover as much of the area around your eyes as possible. The more coverage you have, the less harmful radiation will be able to penetrate. Lenses that wrap around the temples will also prevent UV waves from entering from the sides.

If you like to ski or frolic in the snowy hills, you should be aware that the sun's rays are stronger at higher elevations, so you need to be especially careful to keep your eyes shaded on the slopes. In addition to sunglasses, it's a good idea to put on a wide brimmed hat that covers your eyes.

Make a point to be knowledgeable about proper eye protection throughout the year. Don't forget to wear your sunglasses.

Did you know that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness among adults aged 50 and above?

AMD occurs when the part of the retina responsible for your sharp central vision, the macula, begins to deteriorate. Central vision is the visual field that you rely on to focus on objects clearly, to read or to drive. As AMD affects your macula, the condition often results in gradual central vision loss. AMD does not cause complete blindness, as those affected by the condition are able to see by relying on their peripheral or side vision.

AMD is usually diagnosed as either dry or wet. The dry form is more common than wet macular degeneration. In dry AMD, light-sensitive cells in the macula gradually break down and slowly begin to blur central vision in the affected eye. Over time, central vision in the affected eye can be slowly lost as the macula begins to further deteriorate.

In its wet form, macular degeneration can lead to more severe vision loss, as the more advanced stage of the disease causes new blood vessels to grow beneath the retina. These new blood vessels are delicate and can leak blood and fluid, causing damage and scarring of the retina, leading to further vision loss.

The early and intermediate stages of AMD usually occur without symptoms. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD. The eye exam includes a visual acuity test that measures how well you see, a dilated eye exam and the use of an Amsler grid. An Amsler grid consists of a grid of straight lines with a central focus point in the center. Someone with AMD may see the central area darkened or will report that the lines are wavy. This is a very effective and easy way for you and your eye practitioner to monitor changes in your central vision.

Aside from age, other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing AMD include smoking, high blood pressure, UV exposure and family history of the disease. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes quitting smoking, exercising regularly and maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Eating a diet rich in colorful vegetables and fish can boost the vitamins that naturally protect the eyes from AMD. We may recommend vitamin and mineral supplements based on your risk factors and level of developing macular degeneration.

Early detection of AMD is the best way to control the condition and reduce damage to your eyesight. That's just one of the reasons why it's so important to get a comprehensive eye exam from an eye care professional at least once a year.