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Concerned About Macular Degeneration? – Here Are 6 Tips to Lower your Risk

What Is Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of the macula, the key part of the retina responsible for highly detailed vision and central vision. There are two main types of macular degeneration: dry and wet.

Dry AMD occurs when small deposits in the macula called drusen gradually damage the light-sensitive retinal nerve cells, leading to vision loss.

In wet AMD, fragile new blood vessels grow under the macula. When these blood vessels leak blood or fluid, it damages the macula. Although both types of macular degeneration can result in vision loss, wet AMD is the more serious form of the disease as it results in faster and greater vision loss.

Who Is At High Risk for Macular Degeneration?

  • age 50+
  • a diet high in saturated fat
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Family history of AMD
  • Cardiovascular disease

6 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Macular Degeneration

The following have been shown to lower the risk of developing AMD:

Stop smoking

If you don’t smoke, don’t start, and if you smoke—quit. Smokers are 4 times more at risk of developing AMD and typically develop the disease around 10 years earlier than non-smokers.

Wear Quality Sunglasses

UV rays from sunlight can put your eyes at risk. So make sure you choose high-quality 100% UVA & UBV filtering sunglasses to block the sun’s harmful UV rays. Consider getting polarized lenses, as they filter out reflected light rays more efficiently. That’s especially important if you spend time on the water, at the beach, in the snow or driving.

Check Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure not only harms your heart, but restricts oxygenated blood from reaching your eyes. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. If you already have hypertension, consider using an at-home monitor to keep tabs on it.

Eat Healthy and Consider Supplements

Cut out saturated fat, which can raise your blood pressure. Eat fewer animal fats and replace butter with olive oil. Look for plant-based, high-protein alternatives to meat, and eat oily fish like sardines, mackerel and salmon.

Dark, leafy greens are terrific for your eyes. Kale and other greens are full of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that promote eye health. If you have dry AMD, ask your optometrist about antioxidant supplements that can slow AMD’s progression.

Know Your Family History

Up to 70% of AMD cases have a genetic component. People with a parent or sibling with AMD have a greater risk of developing this serious sight-threatening eye disease. If you have a family history of this disease, get your eyes frequent eye tested for AMD.

Get Your Eyes Checked Regularly

Everyone should have regular comprehensive eye exams, especially if you’re over 50, have a family history of AMD, hypertension or other risk factors.

An eye exam that screens for AMD typically includes:

  • Visual Acuity – tests your ability to read and see an eye chart from various distances
  • Pupil Dilation – the optometrist applies eye drops to dilate the pupil so they can examine the inside of your eyes
  • Digital Retina Image and/or OCT – full color 3D imaging of the macula to detect leakage from the vessels and measure retinal thickness. This can help the eye doctor diagnose wet AMD, even in the early phases.
  • Amsler Grid – The optometrist asks the patient how straight lines on a checkerboard grid appear. The answer “wavy” or “missing” could indicate the presence dry or wet AMD.

Your vision is your gateway to the world. Good vision lets you live an active and independent life, even in your advanced years. Regardless of your age, get your eyes checked regularly, and all the more frequently if you have a family history of AMD or other risk factors.

To schedule your eye exam with Dr. Troy Wagner, contact Child & Family Eye Care in The Woodlands today.


What percentage of the population has macular degeneration?

An estimated 8.7% of the global population has macular degeneration. This number is expected to increase from the current 196 million people affected to 288 million by 2040.

Do injections work for wet macular degeneration?

When AMD has progressed to the “wet” phase, anti-VEGF injections can preserve remaining vision by reducing fluid leakage and bleeding from the macular blood vessels.

Signs of Macular Degeneration During an Eye Exam

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) rarely causes symptoms in its early stages, so annual eye exams that assess changes in the retina and macula are crucial for diagnosing the disease and beginning treatment at the most beneficial time. .

Your eye doctor may conduct one or more of the following tests to determine whether you have AMD:

Amsler grid test

A grid of straight lines with a huge dot in the center is known as an Amsler grid. Your doctor may ask you to point out any lines or areas of the grid that appear blurry, wavy, or broken. Some of the straight lines in the grid may appear faded, fractured or deformed due to macular degeneration.

Dilated eye exam

Your eye doctor will dilate your eyes with drops and inspect the back of your eye with a range of devices. The doctor will search for drusen, which are yellow deposits that grow beneath the retina and create a speckled appearance. Drusen are common in people with macular degeneration. Other retinal irregularities the eye doctor looks for include changes to the pigment of the macula, abnormal blood vessels and fluid leakage.

Fluorescein angiography

A colorful dye injected into a vein in your arm flows to your eye’s blood vessels, highlighting the blood flow within the vessels. As the dye flows through the blood vessels, a unique camera takes numerous photos. These images will reveal any retinal abnormalities or abnormal blood vessels, which may be signs of wet macular degeneration.

Indocyanine green angiography

This test, like fluorescein angiography, employs an injected dye. It can be used in conjunction with fluorescein angiography to pinpoint the type of macular degeneration.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT)

This noninvasive imaging examination produces detailed 3D retinal cross-sectional pictures. It detects thinning, thickening or swelling of the retina. Leaking blood vessels in and under your retina can cause fluid to accumulate.

Optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA)

The OCT scanning equipment uses laser light reflection (rather than fluorescein dye). Within just a few minutes your eye doctor can see 3D photos of blood flow inside the eye.

Schedule an eye exam with Child & Family Eye Care in , Magnolia, and Shenandoah, to check for macular degeneration.


What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration (also known as age-related macular degeneration,or AMD) is a condition in which the macula of the eye breaks down, resulting in a loss of central vision. Vision loss due to dry AMD is gradual, but sudden in cases of wet AMD.

Is macular degeneration curable?

No. However, treatment can reduce or even stop wet-AMD from progressing, so the sooner you get diagnosed, the better.