Miriam: “When I went for my eye checkup, I thought it would be a routine visit. I was devastated when my optometrist told me I had early stage age–related macular degeneration. No one knew what this was like and how scared I was. Now what?”
Probably no other news causes as much panic as the idea of losing your eyesight. You are afraid of losing your independence, becoming a burden to your family, and feeling helpless.
Suddenly your world is starting to get darker, smaller, and less friendly.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD, also known as ARMD), here’s a ray of hope.
What is age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is related to getting older. It’s the leading cause of blindness in people over 50. Over one million people in Canada are affected, and the number is expected to double by 2031. According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) more Canadians are living with blindness or significant vision impairment than the number of Canadians with breast cancer, prostate cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s combined.
In school you learned that the eye is like a camera. Light and images enter your eye and travel through the clear cornea in the front. They move through the natural lens in the middle, and finally reach the inside layer at the back, called the retina.
Most of the light focuses on the center of the retina, called the macula, which is responsible for clear vision.
The macula is a small area in the retina that allows you to see straight ahead. It’s responsible for the sharp vision you need to read a newspaper, watch TV, and see your grandchild’s first toothy smile.
You also have peripheral, or side vision, which directs your attention to things around you. This helps you see a car coming too close to your side, and avoid bumping into people on the sidewalk.
If your macula is damaged, you can slowly lose your central vision to the point where you can’t drive, read, or recognize your family’s faces.
What are the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?
Macular degeneration doesn’t cause any pain, so you may not know you have it. That’s why it’s important to have your eyes checked regularly.
● Fuzzy or blurred vision
● Straight lines look wavy or crooked. For example, the sentences on a page may look wavy, or telephone poles may not appear to be straight.
● Less sensitivity to contrast. You may have difficulty seeing objects that are the same color as their background, such as milk in a white cup.
● Dark areas or a blind spot when you look straight ahead.
● Difficulty distinguishing colors.
Check your vision with the Amsler Grid
What is dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD)?
This is the early stage of age-related macular degeneration, and is usually related to aging.
Years of eating a diet high in fat and sugar, smoking, exposure to intense sunlight or ultraviolet light, and lack of certain nutrients can affect the delicate structures in the macula, and they become damaged.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) begins when you develop something called “drusen” under the retina. Drusen are considered the cells’ waste material. As we age, more of it builds up in the eye --at the same time that your body’s ability to clean them up declines.
Eventually the macula stops working properly. If you don’t do anything to slow down the process, you can gradually lose your vision
AMD currently affects over 1 million Canadians, and with the ageing population this figure is expected to double by 2031.
Good news: macular degeneration benefits from nutritional support
There is no cure for AMD.
The good news is that 90% of cases of dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD) do not progress to severe vision loss.
Even better, studies show that the right nutritional support can significantly reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration, and support and maintain your healthy vision in AMD.
With nutrition and healthy lifestyle you can reduce the risk of development of AMD and progression from early AMD to advanced AMD including wet AMD. Do not wait until your dry AMD progresses to advanced stage or becomes wet AMD, which might be too late. Take action now and change the course of your eye health.
In studies using models of wet AMD, saffron and resveratrol (key ingredients in Saffron 2020) have shown strong protective effects on the retinal cells and the retinal vascular structure.
Can’t I just get the nutrients from a healthy diet?
A healthy macula needs high levels of specific vitamins and nutrients. Even if you eat a generally healthy diet, as you age you probably don’t get enough of the right nutrients for eye health.