Macular Degeneration (MD) is the most common cause of lost vision in New Zealand. 1 in 7 people over the age of 50 are affected. People who have MD in their family have a 50% chance of getting it. The major contributing factors towards getting MD are age, family history of MD, nutrition, smoking and other lifestyle choices.
The macular is a small area in the retina (the neural layer in the back of the eye) which is responsible for letting us see in daylight fine detail, facial recognition, and colour. The macular is so delicate and gives such definition that it has it’s own blood supply behind the area so gets its nutrition by diffusion from the vessels through the various structures in the retina. MD is the gradual breaking down of this vascular system and retinal infrastructure that the cones (which begin the process of seeing) in the macular are not fed properly – thus our ability in seeing can become diminished.
There are 2 types of MD – wet and dry. Dry is the more common (90%) whereas the wet form is more catastrophic. Wet-MD, we can treat with injections today. Dry-MD has a more gradual loss of vision, and can now be treated with macular laser. The only clinic in New Zealand that offers this is at present is the Hamilton Eye Clinic. More information on the two types of MD can be found here.
Short videos explaining the conditions and risk factors can be found below.
Our issue today is that as we know the risk factors of MD how can we best protect ourselves against actually getting it or slowing it down to the extent that it has minimal impact on our lives considering we are battling age and hereditary factors to name a few.
A major health tip is to have your eyes tested by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist regularly – they can ascertain your risk profile and advise accordingly. Don’t smoke as we know the free radicals ingested in smoking can accelerate the rate of damage at the macular level.
If you maintain a healthy lifestyle, control your weight and exercise regularly you can fine tune the monitoring system (blood supply) to watch out for these free radicals which can cause MD. If you limit your intake of fats, eat fish two to three times a week, eat dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily plus the odd handful of nuts each week then you are putting in the right nutrients to compliment your body’s physiology and optimize your health. It is also advised to protect your eyes from strong sunlight with sunglasses and a hat.
To do the best for your maculae when there is a history of MD in your family we recommend a diet high in Vitamins C and E , zinc, copper, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (from the AREDS formula). Sometimes trying to get the right nutrients through food intake can be problematic, and a supplement (with the right concentrations) may be more convenient. We sell a supplement that fits this description in our online store.
It’s about maximizing your physiology at the macular to retard the progression of stress that results in MD that comes with age and genetics. By avoiding smoking, having a healthy lifestyle and getting your eyes checked regularly by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist you are best placed to avoid Macular Degeneration.
– Simon Rose May 2016
Simon Rose Dip. Opt; B Sc.; MBCO. joined Rose Optometrists in 1982 and practices all areas of general optometry.