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Macular degeneration tends to affect adults age 50 and older. Macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease defined by tissue deterioration in the part of your eye that's responsible for central vision. Macular degeneration almost always starts out as the dry form and it may initially affect only one eye. Eventually both eyes will become involved. Macular degeneration doesn't cause total blindness. This disease definitely worsens your quality of life by blurring or causing a blind spot in your central vision. When macular degeneration is accompanied by bleeding it is referred to as wet AMD. The exact cause of macular degeneration is unknown. If you have employees with this disease you should be aware they:

Will require increasingly bright light for reading or doing close work

Experience Increasing difficulty adapting to low light levels

Have increasing levels in blurriness of printed words

Observe a decrease in the intensity or brightness of colors

See visual distortions such as a doorway or signs appear lopsided, objects appear smaller or farther away than they really are

May have difficulty recognizing faces

Find a gradual increase in the haziness of their overall vision

See a blurred or blind spot in the center of their visual field

May Hallucinate unusual patterns, geometric figures, animals or even faces, caused by disrupted communication between the deteriorated macula and the brain

Cope with a profound drop in the sharpness (acuity) of their central vision

Clear central vision is necessary for reading, driving, recognizing faces and doing detail work. Your vision may falter in one eye while the other eye remains fine for years. You may not notice any or much change because your good eye compensates for the weak one. Your vision and lifestyle begin to be dramatically affected when the AMD condition develops in both eyes.

Risk Factors for developing Macular Degeneration

Cigarette smoking Exposure to cigarette smoke doubles your risk of macular degeneration. Obesity Being severely overweight increases the chance that early or intermediate macular degeneration will progress to the more severe form of the disease.

Light-colored eyes People with light-colored eyes appear to be at greater risk than do those with darker eyes. Low levels of nutrients. This includes low blood levels of minerals, such as zinc, and of antioxidant vitamins, such as A, C and E.

Cardiovascular diseases These include high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina).

The best way to prevent the development of macular degeneration is to follow the recommendations listed below.

Eating foods containing antioxidants are those rich in vitamins A, C and E. Diets rich in vegetables, particularly leafy green vegetables, may help you lower the risk of macular degeneration.

Taking antioxidant and zinc supplements has shown to help those with moderate to advanced macular degeneration. Research from the National Eye Institute-sponsored Age-Related Eye Disease Study indicated that taking high doses of zinc, beta carotene, and vitamins C and E is effective in reducing the risk of further vision loss. Be careful as beta carotene has been linked to increased risk of lung cancer in smokers. And too much vitamin E can be toxic. I strongly recommend you consult your doctor about these supplements before trying anything on your own.

Eat fish as a diet rich in the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can result in a reduced risk of macular degeneration.

Stop smoking since smokers are more likely to develop macular degeneration than are nonsmokers. .

Manage your other diseases by taking your medication and following your doctor's instructions for controlling the other conditions

Get regular eye exams. Early detection of macular degeneration is key to your chances of preventing serious vision loss. If you're over 40, an eye exam with dilation at minimum every two years. If you’re over 65 follow your doctor‘s recommended examination intervals. If you have a family history of macular degeneration, have your eyes examined annually.

Screen your vision regularly. If you've been diagnosed with early-stage macular degeneration, your doctor may suggest you regularly monitor your vision at home with an Amsler grid. This is vital for you to detect subtle changes in your vision at the earliest possible time and seek help promptly.

Calculate your risk of macular degeneration by visiting the joy of sight website

If your employee experiences vision loss due to macular degeneration, I have available optical devices called low-vision aids that will help those affected see better for close-up work. There's no treatment available to reverse macular degeneration. But this doesn't mean you'll eventually lose all of your sight. Macular degeneration usually progresses slowly, and many people with the condition are able to live relatively normal, productive lives, especially if only one eye is affected. If you have any questions; please contact our office directly at 708-686-5266