Keep An Eye On Your Eyes
Vision changes will occur naturally as a person ages, but vision loss is not a normal consequence of ageing.
Malaysia is expected to become an ageing nation by 2030, with 15% of the total population aged 65 years and above 1. Age-related macular degeneration (known as the ‘AMD’) is a chronic and progressive degenerative condition and a leading cause of vision loss that affects people aged 60 years and older 3. It is estimated that 46,000 Malaysians above the age of 45 are at risk of irreversible blindness due to wet AMD 2.
AMD is a problem with your retina. It happens when a part of the retina called ‘the macula’ is damaged. Individuals with AMD will lose the central vision, unable to see the fine details up close or far 3. The central vision is important to do things like read, drive a car and recognize faces.
How can we stop this AMD?
AMD can be stopped or slowed if detected early enough. Regular eye exams are crucial. It is highly encouraged to go for eye exams every 1-2 years for people over 60 7.
Wet AMD is not curable, but treatment can prevent it from getting worse. The 2 main treatments include medications to stop new abnormal blood vessels from being produced, known as the anti-VEGF, another type of treatment is the surgical form such as photodynamic therapy and laser photocoagulation which involves light sensitive medicine and/or a light source to destroy abnormal blood vessels formed and prevent their growth.
Antioxidant Nutrients such as Anthocyanins and Xanthophylls8
Anthocyanins are red-purple pigments found in plants with strong antioxidant properties. Berries such as blueberry, bilberry, blackcurrant, strawberry and wolfberry are colored fruits that have high anthocyanins content. Anthocyanins have been shown to protect retina from overexposure to visible light and radiation, as well as to improve vision and increase the supply of blood to retina.
There are 2 dietary carotenoid xanthophylls such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are concentrated in the macula, also known as the macular pigment. Human body is not able to synthesize both lutein and zeaxanthin, they are obtained from green leafy vegetables and fruits, and also through supplementation. They help filter short wavelength lights and prevent oxidative stress damage to the macula.
Vitamins A, C, & E8
Zinc is an important cofactor of many metabolic enzymes activity within the eye, which is found in the retina. Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) also showed zinc supplementation can also help protect the retina and prevent AMD.
- Hirschmann, R. (2020). Share of Aging Population Malaysia 2014-2020. Retrieved 1 September 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/713529/malaysia-aging-population/
- New Treatment For Wet AMD. The Star. Retrieved 1 September 2021, from: https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/health/2013/07/01/new-treatment-for-wet-amd/
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021).What is Macular Degeneration? Retrieved 5 August 2021, from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-macular-degeneration
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). Lower Your Risk of Macular Degeneration. Retrieved 2 September 2021, from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/top-5-risk-factors-amd
- Brazier, Y. (2018). Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): Symptoms and treatment. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/152105#symptoms
- National Eye Institutes. (2021). Get a Dilated Eye Exam. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/healthy-vision/get-dilated-eye-exam
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2013). AMD: A Preventable Form of Vision Loss. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/amd-a-preventable-form-of-vision-loss
- Khoo, H. E., Ng, H. S., Yap, W. S., Goh, H., & Yim, H. S. (2019). Nutrients for Prevention of Macular Degeneration and Eye-Related Diseases. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 8(4), 85. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox8040085