How one missed doctor visit can lead to vision loss

man_at_eye_checkup

For many of us, aging can lead to small changes in our eyesight…

You might notice that driving at night is more difficult than it used to be…

And maybe you notice the words and images aren’t as sharp as they used to be when you read.

You may end up doing what I call the “reach.” You know… that move where you hold what you’re reading out farther and farther in front of you until it comes into focus.

But you may not realize that age puts you at risk for more than these small inconveniences… it puts you at risk for full and permanent vision loss.

That’s because the older you get, the more likely you are to develop a condition known as age-related macular degeneration, or AMD.

While you have about a 2 percent chance of being diagnosed with AMD between the ages of 50 and 59, by the time you’re over 75, your risk of vision loss due to the condition rings in at a whopping 30 percent.

What is AMD?

If you aren’t already familiar with AMD, let’s take a look at exactly what it is and why it’s so devastating to your vision…

Age-related macular degeneration occurs when debris builds up in the central portion of the retina of your eye — an area called the macula. The macula is responsible for focusing the central vision in your eye.

Because of this buildup, your macula begins to lose function, which leads to gradual wavy or blurred eyesight.

Your ability to do everything from reading or driving a car to recognizing faces or making out the fine details of objects is diminished.

There are two types of macular degeneration:

There’s “dry,” which is more common, but progresses slowly and can result in difficulty reading and limited vision at night.

And there’s “wet,” which is less common, but much more severe.

While there is no cure for either type, wet AMD results in greater loss of vision and a poorer outcome.

But there is good news…

There are things you can do to maintain your vision even if you’ve been diagnosed with wet AMD.

Eye injections

The treatment requires injections (as often as monthly) directly into your eyes.

Yes, eye shots = ouch! But saving your vision is worth it, right?

But here’s the thing — once you start this treatment, there’s no stopping. According to a brand new study, skipping even one injection (known as anti-VEGF treatment) could worsen your visual acuity.

In fact, using vision tests, researchers found that every time a patient living with wet AMD misses an eye doctor visit, their eye chart score is likely to decline. They found that compared to those who attended all of their visits, those who averaged between 36 to 60 days between visits lost the ability to recognize at least 6 letters on an eye chart exam, while those who went more than 60 days between visits lost ability to see a total of 12 letters.

This means that one of the most important things you can do if you’re living with AMD is to simply show up to every doctor’s visit without fail.

Maintaining eye health

Whether you’re worried about wet or dry AMD, or simply want to support your vision at every age, the first step is to keep those peepers healthy.

And the easiest way to do that is through nutrition and lifestyle.

First, if you smoke, stop now. Smoking is a known risk factor for vision loss.

Second, you need to eat a diet rich in antioxidants to support the cells of the macula.

In fact, The American Macular Degeneration Foundation recommends supplementing the following nutrients:

  • Lutein plus zeaxanthin — Take 20 mg of lutein along with 4 mg of zeaxanthin to help keep your macula dense and strong.
  • Vitamins C and E — Take 500 mg of C and 400 IUs of vitamin E daily.
  • Vitamin D3 — Along with spending time in natural sunlight each day, take 1,000-2,000 IUs of vitamin D3.
  • Zinc — This is another important antioxidant, so shoot for 20 – 80 mg daily.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids — Take 1,000 mg of fish oil and pure omega-3s.

The risk of AMD and vision loss grows with every passing year. So, whether you’ve already been diagnosed or simply want to ward off the condition and keep your vision strong, see your eye doctor regularly and use the nutritional tips above to support your eyesight.

 

Sources:

For aging patients, one missed doctor’s visit can lead to vision loss

Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Facts & Figures

Macular Degeneration Treatments

Recommended Supplements for Age-related Macular Degeneration

Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

What is Macular Degeneration?