The retina is the inner coating of your eye. It acts much like the film of a camera. Images come through the eye’s lens and are focused on the retina. The retina must be healthy to have and maintain excellent vision throughout your lifetime. Anyone who experiences changes in sharpness or color perception, flashes of light, floaters or distortion in vision should get a dilated retinal examination. In addition, medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol may affect the health of your retina. Routine dilated eye examinations are the key to early detection, monitoring and treatment of eye disease.
There are many things that you can do to maintain excellent eye health.
- Don’t smoke – EVER! Smokers are up to 4 times more likely than non-smokers to have macular degeneration.
- Eat plenty of dark, leafy, green vegetables, such as raw spinach, kale, and collard greens.
- Take a multivitamin with lutein and zeaxanthin. Be sure to tell your Primary Care Doctor about all nutritional supplements you are taking. ****
- Eat fish or take a fish oil supplement for brain and retinal health and for dry eyes.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat fruit and nuts regularly.
- Keep your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol under control.
- Wear sunglasses that block 100% UVA and UVB. Just as you wear sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, it is equally important to protect your eyes.
- Have regular eye exams as directed by your doctor.
- If you have been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, regularly check your vision using an Amsler Grid, like the one found below, to detect small changes.
- Wear your reading glasses, if you normally use them and sit about 14 inches away from the grid.
- Cover the left eye.
- With the right eye, focus on the dark dot in the center of the grid.
- While looking at this dot, you still should be aware of the lines of the grid. Notice if any of the lines are distorted or broken or if there are blurred areas.
- Now, cover the right eye and repeat the test.
- If you notice any blurred, wavy or missing lines, contact your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
But remember that it is a “gross” test and may not catch early vision loss. You should see your eye doctor every year or two for a dilated eye examination.
****If you already have macular degeneration, you may need to take an AREDS formula eye vitamin such as I-Caps (Alcon), Ocuvite (Bausch and Lomb), or Preservision (Bausch and Lomb). AREDS stands for Age Related Eye Disease Study. The AREDS revealed that patients taking the AREDS formula had a 10 to 25 % reduction in the risk of macular degeneration progression.
The AREDS 2 formula contains the following ingredients:
- Vitamin C-500 mg per day
- Vitamin E- 400 IU per day
- Zinc-80 mg per day
- Copper-2mg per day
- Lutein-10 mg per day
- Zeoxanthin-2mg per day
It is important to note that smokers and previous smokers are to avoid beta-carotene found in nutritional supplements.