The Better To See You With, My Dear…
Macular Degeneration, also known as Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), is a medical condition that describes the deterioration of the macula, which is the small central area of the retina of the eye. The macula is extremely important! It allows us to recognize faces, drive, watch tv or any function that requires us to see in fine detail. Visual hallucinations may occur as well. Since a few residents at Westbrook have this medical condition, it’s interesting to try and understand what they experience day to day.
AMD typically occurs in older people. In 2015, over 6 million people from around the world suffered with this condition. In the United States, 2.3% of those aged 70-80 have the disease. That increases to 12% for those over 80. There are two types of AMD, wet or dry. With wet AMD, new blood vessels are growing in an area, such as the macula, where they aren’t supposed to grow. Wet leads to more serious visual problems. Dry AMD is found during the early stages of the condition when yellowish spots, called drusen, accumulate in and around the macula. Early AMD is characterized by the presence of medium-sized drusen, about the width of an average human hair. Intermediate is diagnosed by large drusen and may cause some vision loss. In Late AMD, people experience central vision loss in addition to drusen.
As previously mentioned, age is a factor in developing AMD. Other factors include obesity or inactivity. In a student in Archives of Ophthalmology, June 2003, those who performed vigorous activity at least three times a week reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD. High blood pressure is also an indication as well heredity, smoking, high cholesterol and fat intake.
While there is no cure for AMD, some steps can delay its progression and may even improve vision. Some studies have suggested a diet rich is omega-3 fatty acids may help. In addition, supplements containing lutein and zeaxanthin increase the density of pigments in the macula and may slow down the worsening of AMD. In addition, doctors can prescribe medications that stops and sometimes reverses the growth of blood vessels with Wet AMD. Cataract surgery could possibly improve vision but there has also been concern the surgery could increase the progression of the disease. Sometimes waiting too long to have the cataract surgery can have an adverse outcome.
With a better understanding of the disease, the staff at Westbrook is more equipped to care for residents with AMD. We can print larger newsletters, provide large-print Bingo cards and menu sheets. Most importantly, we can continue to include these residents in activities that don’t require good eyesight. Many times a simple conversation at Coffee Chat or listening to one of our multiple music groups can stimulate a picture-perfect vision for those with AMD. Even if that perfect vision is only a memory recalled from years gone by.