Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a very common condition affecting the retina of the eye. It causes blurry vision and dark spots in the center of the visual field. This makes it challenging to read, drive, and recognize faces. Although AMD typically gets worse over time, it does not lead to total blindness. It is, however, a leading cause of legal blindness (vision of 20/200 rather than 20/20).

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Peripheral vision. AMD permanently reduces vision in the direct line of sight. To compensate, your loved one can learn to rely on peripheral vision (to the side). We are all used to peering directly at an object to see it better. With practice, though, many with AMD adapt to looking from the side—even to read or watch TV.

Ways to slow the progression

Several lifestyle changes have proven effective. You cannot make your loved one adopt them. But you can ask if they would like support and how best you can help.

  • Stop smoking. Research shows this is one of the best ways to slow progression. Reducing or eliminating second-hand smoke is also quite effective.
  • Eat green leafy vegetables daily and fish twice a week. Spinach, kale, and collards provide antioxidants. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, and tuna reduce inflammation.
  • Take the AREDS supplements. A study by the National Eye Institute (Age-Related Eye Disease Study) revealed key daily supplements that slowed—and in some cases halted—AMD. Specifically, 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 iu of vitamin E, 10 mg lutein, 2 mg zeaxanthin, 80 mg zinc, 2 mg copper. Check with the ophthalmologist for reliable sources of this combination.
  • Reduce simple sugars and starches. Best to avoid those that go directly to the bloodstream: Candy, soda, potatoes, white rice, and baked goods with white flour. With the exception of watermelon, fruits are fine. Their sugars take a while to digest.