A leading cause of vision loss
by: Kathryn Borg
A couple of decades ago, age-related macular degeneration was an unknown disease in the public’s knowledge of health. I was introduced to it when my mother was diagnosed with wet and dry age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). This meant she had wet ARMD in one eye and dry in the other. She had been experiencing the symptoms for a while, but hadn’t mentioned them to anyone. This is the first lesson: even if it is a small cloud, or what appears to be an irritant in your eye, you should bring it to the attention of a health professional.
In terms of preventative maintenance, it is never too early to protect yourself against ARMD. This disease remains the leading cause of vision loss in adults over 50. The unfortunate truth is that many younger adults choose not to ‘see’ that far into the future. You may believe that ARMD will not happen to you; it may be considered a far-off risk that can be addressed when you near retiring age or even further.
However, it may surprise people to know that adults are suffering from ARMD at a younger age. Some ARMD sufferers are as young as 20, and ARMD is responsible for roughly five per cent of blindness around the world. The condition continues to progress; up to 196 million people could suffer from ARMD by the year 2020.
The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness describes the condition as “the third most important cause of blindness in the world and the leading cause of blindness in higher income countries with ageing populations”.
One of the main causes of ARMD is an increased amount of free radical damage inflicted on the human body. Free radicals can be found anywhere. You could find them in sun exposure, unnatural foods, pollution and environmental toxins. To make matters worse, the western diet is sorely lacking in the antioxidants required to protect our delicate eyes against disease.
Powerful antioxidants called carotenoids, when consumed in ample amounts, can protect your eyes from degeneration. Free radicals attack your healthy eyes again and again, resulting in the macula becoming damaged. The macula is a small part of the eye that controls the central vision.