By Dr. Joshua Mali
1. Eating carrots are good for your eyes and will improve your vision (even though mom said so)
True: Carrots contain beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A in our bodies to provide nutrition to the eye from front (cornea) to the back (retina). However, carrots are not the only food to contain Vitamin A (others include milk, eggs, and liver). In addition, green leafy vegetables contain lutein and zeaxanthin which are very important for retinal cell health and have tremendous benefit in people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
2. AMD leads to total blindness
False: AMD traditionally affects central vision and usually patients with this condition still retain peripheral vision even in very advanced stages. Typically, only conditions that affect the optic nerve or blood flow to the eye can cause total blindness (i.e. no light perception)
3. Smoking doesn’t affect vision
False: Smoking is the probably the most significant risk factor that people can control. It definitely makes AMD worse and I strongly encourage all my patients to stop smoking.
4. You’ll know right away if you have AMD
False: While AMD typically presents with distorted vision or central vision loss, this symptom can be present in many other conditions that can affect the retina so it is important to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam with your eye doctor immediately if you have any vision changes.
5. Only older folks get AMD
True: It really depends on how you define “older folks”. Advancing age is a major risk factor and signs of AMD typically occur after the age of 50.
Joshua Mali, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist and award-winning vitreoretinal surgeon at The Eye Associates, a private multi-specialty ophthalmology practice in Sarasota, Florida. He is the Medical Director of the Macular Degeneration Association (MDA). He is also the Founder & CEO of Mali Enterprises (www.malienterprises.org).