Understanding Macular Degeneration

Looking through the eyes of age related Macular Degeneration.
Looking through the eyes of age related Macular Degeneration. | Source

Macular Degeneration


The subject of macular degeneration is a subject that is close to my heart. My husband has been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. In my effort to find out more about this age-related disease I came up with a lot of information. As I dove deeper into my research I was delighted to find out that diet, specifically the right type of food, can go a long was to help prevent or slow down the effects of this disease.

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people living in the United States over the age of 55. Unfortunately, it effects over 1.75 million people here in our country. This disease, in many cases, progresses so slowly that most people don't realize their sight isn't what it used to be until it they notice a fuzziness or cloudiness in the center of the eye. I can't stressenough how important is is to visit your eye doctor regularly. They will be able to catch this disease in the beginning and slow or stop the deterioration. There is no known cure for Macular Degeneration. The focus of the treatment is to lessen or delay the disease.

After sharing a few facts about symptoms, and risks of Macular Degeneration I decided to focus on how diet affects this disease. The reason for this is simple; a healthy diet with the correct nutrition, exercise, and proper vitamins can slow or delay the progression of Macular Degeneration by 28%. It seems only smart to try to change your diet, get regular exercise and to take some vitamins everyday to keep your eyesight.


People at Risk for Macular Degeneration

  • women
  • smokers
  • high cholesterol/triglycerides
  • uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • adult diabetics
  • people who are unable to absorb nutrients through their digestive tracts
  • history of this disease in the family


Microscopic view of effect of Macular Degeneration.
Microscopic view of effect of Macular Degeneration. | Source

Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Dry:

  • words appear blurred or difficult to read
  • colors look dim
  • there appears to be a fog in the center of your vision
  • dark or blank areas block the center of your vision
  • distinct shapes are blurry
  • the need for brighter lighting when reading

At the most severe level:

  • difficulty recognizing faces
  • hallucination of geometric shapes or people

Wet:

  • straight lines look wavy or bent
  • center of vision becomes distorted


Types of Macular Degeneration


There are two types of macular degeneration: Dry or atrophic and wet or exudative or neovascular.

Dry macular Degeneration is the gradual breakdown of cells in the macula(the very center of the retina) which causes gradual blurring of the central part of your vision. The blood vessels under the macula become dry and thin which leads to the gradual breakdown. It is estimated that 90 %, almost all of the people with Macular Degeneration start with the dry from.

Wet Macular Degeneration is the breakdown of the weak brittle blood vessels under the macula. New growth of abnormal, extremely fragile, blood vessels replace them. These new abnormal blood vessels leak, bleed and scar the retina, distorting the central vision. With wet Macular Degeneration vision distortion usually begins in one eye. It may affect the other eye at a later date. With wet Macular Degeneration the loss of vision is more rapid than the dry type of Macular Degeneration.


Risk Factors of Macular Degeneration

  • Age - developing this disease increases with age
  • Pigmentation- this disease is more common in people with light pigmentation
  • Iris color - people with a lighter colored iris is more likely to develop this disease
  • Race - this disease occurs in all races but is more common to the Caucasian race
  • Gender - women appear to be at a greater risk
  • Sleep apnea
  • Obesity
  • High-fat diet
  • Smoking
  • Over exposure of sunlight
  • medications
  • family history


Cross section of the human eye.
Cross section of the human eye. | Source

What kind of diet would help with Macular Degeneration?


A good diet for Macular Degeneration would include:

  • Foods high in antioxidants
  • foods high in Omega 3
  • Low glycemic carbohydrates
  • Proteins that are low in fat
  • Cold water fish
  • Vitamins
  • Exercise


Antioxidents


Antioxidants are a powerful tool in fighting Macular Degeneration. They help guard our cells and our bodies from inflammation and degenerative diseases include Macular Degeneration.

Main types of Antioxidants and their food sources include:

  • Lutein- collard greens, kale, spinach, and Swiss chard
  • Beta-carotene - apricots, asparagus, carrots, kiwi, mango, red pepper, squash, and sweet potato
  • Vitamin C - broccoli, cabbage, kiwi, oranges, red peppers, and turnips
  • Vitamin E - almonds,corn oil, mango, safflower oil, soybean oil, turnip greens, and wheat germ oil
  • Copper - almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts

High Antioxidant Fruits:

  • apricots, blackberries, black chokecherries, black plums, blueberries, cranberries, gala apples, Goji berries, Granny Smith apples, kiwi, mango, oranges, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, red delicious apples, red grapes, and sweet cherries

High Antioxidant Vegetables:

  • alfalfa sprouts, artichoke hearts, asparagus, beets, broccoli florets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, kale, red bell peppers, russet potatoes, spinach, squash, Swiss chard, turnips, and turnip greens

High Antioxidant Beans:

  • black beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, and small red beans

High Antioxidant Nuts and Seeds:

  • almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts

High Antioxidant Chocolate

  • cocoa powder and dark chocolate

High Antioxidant Tea:

  • black, green and white

High Antioxidant Spices:

  • cinnamon, ground cloves, and oregano


Omega 3

  • Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that the body cannot produce. You must get it from your diet or supplements. It plays a major role in brain function and normal growth and development. Including 220 mg per day of Omega 3 in your diet can lower the risk of developing Macular Degeneration by 40%.

Seafood High in Omega 3:

  • anchovies, Atlantic herring, black and red fish caviar, cod, halibut, Lake trout, mackerel, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, snapper, swordfish, Yellow-fin tuna

Meat High in Omega 3 (organ meat):

  • giblets, gizzards, kidney, liver, liver sausage, pate, and pork liver cheese

Fruit High in Omega 3:

  • avocados (yes, it is considered a fruit), cantaloupe, grapefruit, lemon, lime, papayas,and tangerines

Vegetables High in Omega 3:

  • collard greens, dandelion greens, endive, hot chili peppers, kale, kidney beans, navy beans, shallots, soy beans, spinach, squash, tofu, and tomatoes

Nuts and Seeds High in Omega 3:

  • Brazil nuts, butter nuts, flax seed, hemp seed, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seed, soybeans, soy nuts, and walnuts

Oils High in Omega 3:

  • corn oil, flax seed oil, olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and walnut oil

Spices High in Omega 3:

  • basil, cayenne pepper,chili powder, curry powder, ginger, marjoram, paprika, pepper, sage, and thyme


Low Glycemic Carbohydrates

Low Glycemic Carbohydrates help to control blood sugar level and help to defend against age related diseases such as Macular Degeneration.

Low Glycemic Carb Vegetables:

artichokes,asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts,cabbage, celery, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, peppers (red, green and orange), squash, tomatoes, and zucchini

Low Glycemic Carb Fruits:

apples, apricots, avocados,cherries, grapefruit, oranges, and plums

Low Glycemic Carb Beans:

baked beans, black beans, butter beans, chick peas, kidney beans, lentils and lima beans

Low Glycemic Carb Grains:

barley, brown rice, multi-grain bread, oatmeal (slow cooked, regular), rye, spaghetti, vermicelli, whole wheat flour, and wild rice


Protein


A low level of protein can cause cloudiness of cornea, decrease your vision, cause eye pain, and light sensitivity. The proper level of protein should account for 10 to 15 percent of your daily caloric level.

Proteins to Include in Your Diet:

  • bayleaf, chicken, cod, eggs, garlic powder, haddock, lean beef, lean pork, lean veal, rosemary salmon, turkey, unroasted almonds, unroasted Brazil nuts, vinegar and wheat germ

Limit red meat to 3 servings per month.

Diagram of normal eye ball
Diagram of normal eye ball | Source

Daily Vitamins

  • 500 mg Vitamin C
  • 400 IU Vitamin E
  • 15 mg Beta-carotene
  • 80 mg Zinc Oxide
  • 2 mg Cupric Oxide (copper)

Macular Degeneration

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Comments 29 comments

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Thanks for this extremely interesting article about Macular Degeneration.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Thank you MarieCoetser. As I said in the beginning, it is a subject dear to my heart.


marellen 5 years ago

Very informative hub and thank you for sharing this with us. Good luck to your husband. I'm glad he has you in his corner.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for a very detailed and interesting hub. It's wonderful that there are ways to slow degeneration of the macula, since sight is such an important sense. Good luck to you and your husband.


acaetnna profile image

acaetnna 5 years ago from Guildford

Wow so informative and such an amazing article.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

marellen, thanks you so much for your kind words. This progressive disease affects more people than we realize.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Thank you, AliceC. I'm hoping he is able to keep a portion of his eyesight. I surely don't know what I would do without mine.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

acaetnna, thanks for your comments. It's nice hearing from you.


europewalker profile image

europewalker 5 years ago

Excellent hub, very informative and useful.


lyjo 5 years ago

What excellent information. I worked for an Optometrist for a period of time, and I can't stress enough how important this information is! And equally important...is to get regular eye exams! One of our clients ended up being diagnosed with a brain tumor...he was having trouble with different symptoms for quite sometime...but chose to ignore them...he is now permantly blind...at age 38...but it could have been much worse...please heed these words...get your eyes checked regularly and follow everything that KoffeKlacth Gals is saying...she knows what she speaks of...Voted up,awesome,interesting & useful!


iZeko profile image

iZeko 5 years ago

It’s great that you’ve managed to squeeze so much useful info, especially about the diet, into this hub. Voted up!


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Thanks europewalker. I appreciate your comment.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

lyjo, it's awful to watch someone you love slowly lose their eyesight. I hope this hub helps someone in the beginning stages of this disease. Thanks for your wonderful comments.


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

Thanks, this was a really interesting article and I am so sorry that your husband has got it, I guess it is a little easier in that the loss is gradual, but obviously it does not make the loss any better to endure


fashion 5 years ago

Extremely interesting hub.

Thanks for sharing it here.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Tnak You, CASE1WORKER. At least with it progressing slowing we can better prepare.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

fashion, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your comment.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

This is a real tutorial on Macular Degeneration. I read to a lady who has MD and this information will help me know what she is going through. You laid it out well and kept it interesting, not too medical but realistically serious. Thank you. Hyph


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Hypenbird, thanks you for you wonderful comment. When I wrote this I kept in mind what I would want to know. I hope it helps people understand better what this disease is all about.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

Very informative and well-written. It's interesting how a healthy diet can help relieve so many kinds of illnesses and health problems. Good luck to your husband. And thanks so much for sharing this. :)


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Thanks Om. I also find it interesting how so many of the healthy foods overlap in helping different diseases.


drpastorcarlotta profile image

drpastorcarlotta 5 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

Very informational and well written! Thank you!!!! Voted-Up!


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

drpastorcarlotta, thanks you for the comment and the vote up.


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

Voted awesome and up - thanks for the completeness of your information. My dad was diagnosed with MD (wet) but managed to rid himself of it with diet and vitamins. His doctors can find no sign of it now. I particularly appreciate reading this as I had no idea about the was genetic link.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

RedElf, I was amazed at the things I learnd when I began researching this disease. It seems that we are finding out that more diseases are genetic than we realized.

I am happy to hear about your father being able to rid himself of this disease. Here's hoping it works for my husband.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Yours is both a compassionate and realistic description of this disease. My mother is in the late stages of MD, her blindness being prevented by bi-monthly injection treatment. She's been fighting this disease for years with vitamins and diet, and now, with injections.

I've been with her for many of these injection treatments. They will go on for the rest of her life. Fortunately, they are painless, although they are stressful.

Perhaps in another Hub you might explain what these injection treatments are.


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Sally's Trove, first I am sorry to hear about your mother. It can be extremely stressful.

As I was researching macular degeneration I found so much information that I couldn't include it in this article. I like your suggestion on doing one about the injection treatments. Look for it in a couple of weeks.


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 5 years ago

Hi KKG

This is a well put together hub about a very important topic which we all need to have a greater awareness. I hope the diet is helping prevent the progression of your husband's condition.

Best wishes

Amber:)


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida Author

Amber, Thank you. It seems to have slowed the process. We are hoping for the best.

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