Macular Degeneration (ARMD / AMD)
symptoms, diet, nutrition, self-help & research
Macular Degeneration (ARMD, AMD) is the gradual breakdown of the macula cells, a small yellowish part of the eye near the retina's center. This is your central vision, the point where your vision is most exact. The deterioration weakens your ability to read, write, drive, and recognize faces, which are all activities requiring healthy central vision. Peripheral, or side vision isn't damaged.
Blindness is not inevitable for people who have ARMD. There is a large amount of peer review research showing ARMD to be a nutritional and lifestyle responsive eye disease, and that you can stabilize and possibly even improve your vision with healthy lifestyle choices.
- See our top macular health products
- Supporting healthy eyes
- Daily juicing of vegetables and fruits (preferably organic). We recommend
a combination of the following: ginger, garlic, leeks, parsley, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery,
spinach, kale, collard greens, apples, grapes, raspberries, lemon, chlorophyll, and wheat grasses
(but not too much fruit). Learn more about juicing.
- Drugs. Be aware of drugs that damage the macula.
- Learn about macular health support information
- Read others' reviews and their experiences.
- Take the Amsler Test
Most people with ARMD have dry macular degeneration. In dry macular degeneration tiny, yellow drusens develop. Drusens are accumulations of fatty, yellow material that form in the macula and people with ARMD have more and larger drusens than what is common with aging. They are thought to be waste products that begin to accumulate due to poor circulation and waste-flushing in the eye. Antioxidants are important for the normal waste-clearing process. The drusen slowly cause the cells in the macula to deteriorate, resulting in blurred vision.
The second, more severe form is called wet macular degeneration (also known as choroidal neovascularization) in which new, abnormal blood vessels begin to develop near the macula, causing fast and serious vision loss.
- Lines look distorted or wavy. (try the amsler test) In more developed AMD, the amsler grid can look quite distorted
- Shapes look blurred, fuzzy, or hazy
- Colors appear more dim and less distinct
- Words are hard to read because they are blurred
- Blank or dark areas hide the center area of your vision
- The center of vision looks foggy or cloudy
- Heredity is a risk factor.
- Free radicals can damage the eyes. They are formed when the blue and ultraviolet sunlight passes through the crystalline lens of the eye. Free radicals also result as natural metabolism byproducts. These chemical are highly reactive and cause oxidation. The result is destabilization of healthy macula cells in the eyes.
- Smoking, chronic fatigue and a weak immune system hasten damage from free radicals.
- Poor digestion and nutritional deficiencies - People with ARMD are often deficient in a number of nutrients that are essential to eye health such as lutein, essential fatty acids, zeaxanthin, taurine, antioxidants, zinc, bioflavonoids, selenium, and vitamin B-complex.
- Systemic inflammation, indicated by high levels of c-reactive protein has been tied to increased macular degeneration risk.2
Who is at Risk?
- Smokers - smoking increases the risk of AMD by 200-300%
- Adult diabetics
- Those with a family history of AMD
- People with high blood pressure
- People who cannot properly absorb nutrients through their digestive tracts
Drugs that can damage the retina:
Also see a list of harmful drugs
- Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine sulfate), often prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis, has been found to cause irreversible retinal damage.
- Chloridine (brand name Catapres), for high blood pressure
- NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) side effects include retinal hemorrhages that may result from long-term use. This group includes ibuprofen, aspirin1, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, flurbiprofen, and naproxen sodium. In addition acetaminophen (Tylenol), though not an NSAID, can harm vision.
Doctors are beginning to recognize that at least the AREDs formulations can be helpful as macular degeneration supplements. Some cases are treated with laser surgery, but may not effectively seal a leaking blood vessel without permanently destroying retinal nerve fibers passing through the same area. The National Eye Institute reports that macular degeneration treatment using laser technology can make vision worse, and any ability to slow the progression of disease does not appear until at least a year after surgery.
Photodynamic Therapy (PVT) is a generally less damaging procedure to seal blood vessels in the eye than traditional laser treatments.
Antiangiogenesis drugs such as Macugen can be injected into the retina for wet macular degeneration; they help prevent the body from growing new, leak-prone blood vessels in the retina. Lucentis and Avastin are considered more effective injection treatment strategies. Research suggests that the best results are using a combination of Lucentis and PVT to help stabilize wet macular degeneration.
Drugs can have potentially serious side effects, so the benefits of going on these therapies have to be evaluated with your eye doctor and family.
The best cure is prevention. You can use complementary medicine to address underlying causes of AMD, along with conventional medicine to alleviate acute event damage. Since less than 1% of those with ARMD are legally blind, most people are able to benefit greatly from prevention.
- Poor Circulation
- Elevated Homocysteine
- Choroidal Neovascularization
- Macular Pucker
- Stargardt's Disease
- Retinitis Pigmentosa
Studies and Information
1. The Association of Aspirin Use With Age-Related Macular Degeneration; Gerald Liew, PhD, et al; JAMA Internal Medicine, Feb 25, 2013, Vol 173, No. 4
2. C-Reactive Protein and the Incidence of Macular Degeneration, Vinod P. Mitta, MD, MPH; et al, JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013;():1-7
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