What is Macular Degeneration
In the first place, it is a chronic condition affecting the central part of the retina (the macula). And resulting in distortion or loss of central vision. Also, the condition is also referred to as age-related macular degeneration or AMD.
Secondly, the cause is from the formation of deposits or abnormal blood vessels under the retina. In addition, it affects the visual acuity of the individuals and is giving rise to dull vision. As a result, visual activities requiring sharp vision, such as driving, reading, and stitching are affected the most.
Finally, one of the major misconceptions is that macular degeneration causes blindness. Even in the most severe cases, AMD does not cause blindness. And the peripheral vision that remains, can be used to carry out the activities.
Types of macular degeneration
In the first place, there are 2 forms of macular degeneration: the dry and wet form. Dry macular degeneration is also known as non – neovascular. And the wet form is neovascular. Of the two forms, dry macular degeneration is most common. In addition, there are about 85 –90 percent of cases diagnosed with this form.
Dry macular degeneration
Is a yellow colored deposit under the retina. Also known as drusen begin to accumulate around the macula. Drusen are made from lipids, a fatty protein. These yellow spots are a collection of debris from deteriorating tissue. Dry macular degeneration causes the gradual loss of central vision. however, the symptoms are not as severe as the wet form.
Wet macular degeneration
A chronic eye disease that causes blurred vision or a blind spot in your visual field. The cause is from abnormal blood vessels. The growth of new blood vessels in and around the macula. Through a process known as neovascularization. In addition, the new blood vessels that develop, tend to leak and bleed. Which causes the macula to swell and bulge, altering the central vision. In other words, this is the most aggressive form of AMD, though very less common. However, vision impairment is severe in this case. Causing major loss of central vision as the disease advances to the next level.
- Family history
- Females are more susceptible
- Caucasians are more likely to develop AMD than other races
- People with light-colored eyes
So far, there is no substantial treatment for the chronic eye disease. Most treatments that are available for the wet form of AMD often fails to meet the patient’s expectations. And therefore is no longer in use. Therefore, in the majority of the cases. It is best to use aids designed for individuals with low vision for the utmost help. Using these aids helps improve the quality of life and also allows them to be independent.
Tips and strategies to help
Caring for loved ones with macular degeneration is never easy. More so, when there is a shortage of treatment options available for treating the same. Here are some tips and strategies. This will be useful for the family caregivers to deal with AMD.
Consult an optometrist right away.
Consult an optometrist, who has specialized in low vision problems. Immediately when your loved one is complaining of vision problems. A low vision optometrist is capable of measuring the degree of vision loss. And would prescribe glasses or any other vision aids based on the diagnosis.
Exercise: Encourage your loved one to exercise.
This is because inspite of suffering from macular degeneration. Your loved one has to stay active and healthy. Exercising regularly will help your loved one stay physically active. And maintain ideal body weight. This is very important because being inactive causes obesity. This is a major risk factor for developing age-related macular degeneration.
Encourage proper nutrition.
New research trials have suggested a positive link. Between nutrition and a lowered risk of macular degeneration. This further indicates, that if family caregivers encourage their loved one to have a nutrient rich diet. Then the disease progression can be significantly slowed down. For example, a diet containing rich amounts of salmon and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Can help in slowing down the progression of macular degeneration. In addition, foods rich in vitamin C are also great for eye health. And would also help in slowing down the disease progression.
Maintain healthy lifestyle factors.
Apart from having a balanced diet. Your loved one should also work towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For example, quitting smoking, and keeping chronic diseases at bay. Keep such diseases as diabetes and hypertension under control is very necessary.
Avoid prolonged sun exposure
Although the evidence is not definitive. Some studies suggest an association. Between age-related macular degeneration and cumulative eye damage. From ultraviolet (UV) and other light. This light may damage the retina. And increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Make changes in your living area.
Once the diagnosis of macular degeneration is confirmed. Then making changes in the living area becomes mandatory. This is required to prevent accidents and injuries. Having proper lighting wherever possible is necessary. So that your loved one doesn’t trip over and fall. Remove obstacles and give your loved one sufficient space to walk.
Read and gather information
Here is a great website for more information. Reading and gathering information about macular degeneration is very much necessary. The more you learn about the disease, the better you will be able to help your loved one cope with the condition.
As a family caregiver, you need to understand. The diagnosis of macular degeneration has left your loved one in a state of shock. Therefore, in this condition, it is necessary that, along with physical support. You will also need to provide emotional support as well. Offer to go to ophthalmology appointments with them. Help them with cooking balanced meals. These are some of the areas where you can help your loved ones live a very productive life.
Macular degeneration is a progressive disease of the eye. It will make life really miserable for our loved ones. Helping them cope with the disease in a healthy manner is that what they need. With lots of love, patience, and understanding. We can help our loved one manage the disease in a positive manner. Also, I would highly recommend these products for macular degeneration.