What is AMD ? Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease which causes damage to the macula, a small spot at the center of the retina. AMD causes various symptoms, from a distortion of the images, to dark, blurry areas at the center of the image. This visual impairment can interfere with simple everyday activities, such as the ability to read, write, drive, see faces, or do close work, such as cooking or fixing things around the house. Generally, AMD by itself does not lead to complete blindness, as peripheral vision is usually preserved.
  1. 1-MACULA
  2. 2-OPTIC DISC
  3. 3-OPTIC NERVE
  4. 4-LENS
  5. 5-IRIS
  6. 6-RETINA
The different forms of AMD
There are two forms of AMD that cause visual loss. The neovascular or wet form that corresponds to the appearance of new vessels in the retina. These new vessels disrupt the layers of retinal cells causing visual disturbances. The other form, called atrophic or dry, is responsible for an irreversible disappearance of the visual cells of the retina leading to a loss of vision. These two advanced forms are usually preceded by warning signs. These are small abnormalities of the retina. Generally, these abnormalities do not cause visual discomfort and can be easily detected by ophthalmologists.
Screening
AMD screening can be performed by the ophthalmologist through an examination of the fundus. It is recommended from the age of 55 onwards to have an examination by your ophthalmologist at least every 2 to 3 years.
Treatments
Since 2007, there are effective treatments for the neovascular (wet) form of AMD. These are injections of product inside the eye, allowing the new vessels to regress and thus improve vision. However, these treatments may, depending on the case, require regular injections, which may be numerous and may be constraining for the patient. These treatments, in most cases, do not allow a complete cure. To date, research is underway to treat the atrophic (dry) form of AMD and treatments may be proposed in the coming years.
First cause of visual impairment in people over 55 AMD is the leading cause of severe visual impairment in Europe and North America. It affects more than 13.45 million people worldwide, including 4 million in Europe. Despite significant advances in therapies over the last 10 years, treatments remain limited and in some cases, visual loss cannot be avoided.
Risk factors
AMD is a multifactorial disease: it is caused by a combination of several factors.
- Age
Age is the main factor involved in AMD. AMD appears from age 55 but the risk of developing AMD increases sharply after the age of 75 years. It is estimated that about 1 person out of 5 will be affected by AMD after age 75.
- Heredity
More than 50 genes are associated with AMD. If your parents or grandparents are affected by AMD, it is therefore advisable to have regular visits to your ophthalmologist, from the age of 55 years. It is now possible to know your own genetic risk for AMD by performing a genetic test.
- Warning signs
There are small alterations of the retina that predispose to the occurrence of AMD. These abnormalities usually do not cause visual symptoms, but can easily be identified by ophthalmologists. They are small yellow deposits, called drusen, and alterations of the pigmentation (whitish spots, called hypo-pigmentation, or grayish, called hyper-pigmentation).
- Smoking
Smoking is well known for its harmful effects on health, but we are less informed about its effects on the eye, which are real. The risk of AMD is highly increased in smokers, and persists for some time after cessation. It is therefore important to stop smoking as soon as possible, especially if you have a parent with AMD.
- Food quality
Today, many scientific studies agree that food quality is involved in AMD. Diet is therefore an important factor in preventing disease and maintaining good eye health.
Fish
Fish and more particularly oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines. Oily fish are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are good fats, and one of the major components of our retina. People with high intakes of omega 3 have been shown to have decreased risk of AMD. These omega 3 are also found in vegetable oils such as walnut, rapeseed or soybean oils.
Fruits and vegetables
A consumption of green vegetables (spinach, peas, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, salad ...), yellow-orange fruits and vegetables (corn, pumpkin, oranges, tangerines), as well as eggs is beneficial to preserve good health of the macula. These foods are very rich in lutein and zeaxanthin which are natural pigments. These yellow pigments have the specificity of being present in large quantities in the macula and help protecting it against light beams.
Olive oil
Among vegetable oils, olive oil has antioxidant properties due to its high contents in polyphenols. Antioxidants prevent oxidation reactions that lead to an accelerated aging of the retina cells. One study showed that regular users of olive oil were less affected by AMD.
Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is also beneficial for your eyes. This diet traditionally observed in the regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, dried beans), whole grains (whole bread, whole rice, whole pasta ...), fish and poultry. Consumption of foods such as red meat, dairy products, sweet products (cakes, sweets, cookies, sweets ...) and industrial products (convenience food ...) is limited. Moreover, olive oil is used as the main source of fat. The Mediterranean Diet also includes a moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages, mainly red wine. The Mediterranean diet is a healthy diet, not restrictive, based on the consumption of products rich in nutrients beneficial to health.
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