Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of vision loss in people aged 60 and older. AMD affects the macula, a small, yet extremely important area in the retina responsible for seeing fine details clearly. When the macula is damaged, the centre of our field of vision may appear blurred, distorted, or dark, which may interfere with everyday tasks such as reading, writing, driving or recognising faces.
Stages of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
AMD is classified as dry AMD or wet AMD. In dry AMD, due to wear and tear, there is slow damage to the normal tissue constituting the macula, which then slowly wears out leaving an area of loss of visual function. All patients start out with dry AMD and 10 per cent will progress to have wet AMD. In wet AMD, networks of weak new vessels grow under the retina, with a high risk of rupture or leak of blood into the retina at any time, leading to sudden vision loss. Both conditions can be sight-threatening in the late stages.
Wet AMD is treated with intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF drugs. However, there is currently no cure for dry AMD, but dietary and lifestyle changes can slow down the disease progression. In those patients who do unfortunately experience vision loss, low vision aids can improve the central vision.
“As the name implies, the main risk factor of AMD is age. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle seems to play a significant role in the development of the disease, especially in people with a genetic predisposition to it. People with Age Macular Degeneration are advised to quit smoking and always wear sunglasses with proper filters (100 per cent protection against both UVA and UVB or 100 per cent protection against UV 400) to protect their eyes when outdoors,” explains Dr. Luisa Sastre, Specialist Ophthalmologist in Medical Retina and Cataract Surgery at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai.
“Additionally, for certain patients diagnosed with AMD, boosting their antioxidant intake could protect their eyes from damaging substances called oxidants that can impact eye health. Carotenoids, vitamins C and E, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and copper are powerful antioxidants that are essential for maintaining optimal body function and promoting eye health,” she adds.
Patients diagnosed with moderate to severe dry AMD or wet AMD are frequently advised to take nutritional supplements as certain studies have shown they can slow down the progression of the disease. However, the adoption of a healthy diet and lifestyle could result in comparable outcomes.