AMD: Are you eating well for your ageing eyes?

AMD - age-related macular degeneration

What is age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?

This is the deterioration of the macula, the central region of the retina in the eye. Oxidative stress plays a role in macular degeneration causing poor eye-sight, especially in old age. These two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin make up the macula.

What are carotenoids?

Carotenoids, like beta-carotene, are found in plant foods [for example, carrots] and must be converted into vitamin A by the body. They are well-known for colouring vegetables green or orange. Carotenoids [which are antioxidants] may help protect your eyes from the harmful effects of blue light and lower your risk of developing macular degeneration later in life.

What does a healthy macula look like?

A “healthy” macula is about the size of the letter “O” and is required for central vision. Central vision becomes blurry in age-related macular degeneration.

Did you know that AMD contributes to the burden of visual impairment and blindness in Nigeria’s elderly? It is more common in women in Nigeria, and it is most common between the ages of 60 and 79. About a quarter of all eyes have severe visual impairment or blindness, while about a third have moderate visual impairment and one-third have normal vision.

Macular degeneration in the eyes

Image source

There are two types of AMD: dry and wet.

Dry AMD is four times more common and milder than wet AMD. It happens when light-sensitive cells in the macula gradually deteriorate. Dry AMD can progress (sometimes very quickly) to wet AMD if left untreated. Wet AMD is caused by abnormal blood vessel growth beneath the macula. As a result, central vision rapidly deteriorates. Wet AMD is also referred to as advanced AMD.

Nutrition significance:

A number of studies on nutrition and age-related macular degeneration of the eyes have discovered a link between increased fruit and vegetable consumption and a lower risk of both dry and wet AMD. More research is needed before any conclusions can be drawn, but it is clear that eating more fruits and vegetables benefits eye health. 

Food sources:

Foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin will be extremely beneficial in enriching the macula of the eye. Dark leafy greens, peas, summer squash, pumpkin, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, carrots, and pistachios are some of these foods. Look for these nutrients in local foods.

What’s the harm in giving it a shot? Also, please spread the word because raising AMD awareness among the at-risk population will aid in early detection and treatment.

Article by Collins Akanno

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