Age-related macular degeneration is a disease that causes vision problems and blindness and it is a disease that is associated with people over the age of 50. However, new findings determined by the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz show that it may not be a disease that only affects older people. There were 4,340 individuals who participated in the study and almost four percent of them who were between the ages of 35 and 44 had age-related macular degeneration.
Further Findings of the Study
Aside from determining that it is possible for people under the age of 50 to suffer from age-related macular degeneration, the study also allowed the researchers to learn more about how often the different types of the disease occur. Twelve percent of the individuals between the ages of 35 and 74 had the early stages of AMD, while there were only 0.2 percent of the individuals with symptoms of late-stage AMD.
This information validates the concern that AMD does affect people much sooner than it has previously been believed. Why this information has not been discovered until now possibly has to do with the methods that are used to screen for the disease and even perhaps not starting the screenings for the disease until people have reached the age of 50.
Why AMD Isn’t Discovered Sooner
In many cases, age-related macular degeneration is not discovered in individuals until the disease has progressed to the later stages. This is partly because most screenings for the disease don’t start until age 50. It’s also because the disease progresses slowly and often without showing any symptoms until it has reached the late stages. And yet one more reason why it may not be discovered early is because many people don’t schedule regular yearly eye exams as they are supposed to.
It was believed before that age as well as genetics played the most major roles in the development of AMD, but now that it’s been discovered that it isn’t just older people who can develop the disease, age may not be such a big factor in the cause of AMD.
In its very early stages, most people don’t even know that anything is wrong. However, as the disease begins to progress, individuals will experience changes in their vision such as blurriness, spots or shadowy areas, and even distorted vision. When the disease has progressed to the very late stages, complete vision loss could occur.
Although the symptoms begin to appear as AMD progresses, some people choose to ignore the symptoms for as long as possible for one reason or another. Others schedule a visit to see their eye doctor the minute they notice something is wrong with their eyesight. It’s the ones who schedule the exams at the first sign of trouble who are diagnosed the soonest, but oftentimes it isn’t soon enough.
Prevention and Treatment Options
Unfortunately, there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, but there are some treatments that can delay the progression of the disease and sometimes even improve one’s vision. The treatment options available depend on what stage the disease has progressed to and also depends on what form of the disease the individual has.
If the individual has the wet form of the disease there are FDA-approved drugs that can stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels and slow the disease down. Some of these drugs help to improve vision as well. If it is the dry form of the disease, there are no FDA-approved methods of treatment available as of yet, but following a nutritional diet may help to prevent the disease from progressing to the wet form.
There are many different studies constantly being conducted to determine whether or not a nutritional diet can lower the risk of developing the disease. Many of these studies have shown that there is a link between nutrition and lowering the risk of AMD.
Eating a diet that is high in omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to lower the risk of the development of AMD and may possibly prevent the disease entirely. Foods high in omega-3s include salmon and other kinds of fish. In addition, nutrients known as zeaxanthin and lutein are also helpful for preventing AMD.
When in doubt, taking an eye-healthy supplement, like our Ocu-Plus Formula that contains the 17 essential vitamins and minerals for good eye health, will help to lower the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration as well as many other diseases that affect the eyes and vision.