It is estimated that 2 million Canadians suffer from macular degeneration and with our aging population that number could triple over the next 25 years. Macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that affects central vision. One of the earliest signs of macular degeneration is often the distortion of straight lines or grids and blurred vision or blind spots often occur.
The largest risk factor for the development of macular degeneration is age. It is thought that people over the age of 50 years have a two percent chance of developing the disease and those over 75 years have a 30 percent risk.
Some other risk factors for the development of the disease include:
• Family history
• Being Caucasian
• Being female
• Being overweight
• Having light coloured eyes
• Excess exposure to UV light
• Low nutrient levels
• Having cardiovascular disease
There is no cure for macular degeneration but it can be treated and may even be preventable. By modifying your lifestyle to decrease your risk factors you can greatly decrease your chances of developing macular degeneration. Quit smoking, get physically active and protect your eyes from UV light with sunglasses. Eat a more balanced diet rich in antioxidants by including more fruits and vegetables. Talk to your pharmacist about special eye vitamins that are rich in the vitamins and minerals thought to decrease the risk of macular degeneration.
It is important to have your eyes examined regularly to try to detect any problems early on. The earlier the disease is caught the greater the chance that its effects on your vision can be kept to a minimum.