Guest: Karen Disher
I was about to turn 65, was a widow and was getting ready to retire. Knowing that retiring and living alone, my income would be somewhat limited. So, I started to take appropriate measures several months before then. I made sure my car was in good working order. I checked all my appliances to see that they, too, were in good working order. I took stock of my houses’ condition so I would not have any unexpected expenses. Lastly, I made a doctor’s appointment to make sure I was okay.
Turns out, I wasn’t. My eye exam didn’t go so well. So my doctor sent me to a retina specialist. After several tests, that doctor sat me down and told me I had age-related macular degeneration. Huh? What’s that? I’ve never heard of that. But it meant I was losing my central vision. To say the least, I was devastated.
Is macular degeneration inherited? How did I get it? How would I cope? What do I do if I cannot drive? How do I live my life without my books? What about doing everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, and paying my bills? Would I be totally dependent on others? I had lots of questions, so I needed to find some answers. And this is what I found.
It turns out 11 million people in the United States have some form of macular degeneration and that number is expected to double by 2050. Sadly, there is no cure or real treatment to reverse it. Age is the main risk factor for age-related macular degeneration. The risk of getting advanced age-related macular degeneration increases from 2% for those ages 50-59, to nearly 30% for those over the age of 75.
With no cure or treatment, is there something that can be done to slow the progression of it? Yes, there is.
- You can take eye vitamins known as AREDS that will supply your eyes with the proper vitamins and nutrients that have been clinically proven to slow down the procession of macular degeneration.
- With the help of a low vision specialist, there is therapy and low vision aids that can help you see what you want to see with the vision you have left.
There are also some lifestyle changes you can make and should be making BEFORE this has a chance to affect you.
- Don’t smoke
- Keep blood pressure at a normal rate
- Eat a diet full of fruits, vegetables and fish, and avoid foods that rapidly raise blood sugar
- Get lots of sleep
- Protect you eyes from sunlight when outside with sunglasses or a hat
- Protect your eyes from dangerous blue light
I also found out there is ongoing research to try and find new treatments including stem cell therapy, radiation therapy, new drugs, computer chip implants and so on!
If you are older or soon will be, it’s never too late to start making changes to your diet and lifestyle to ward off the effects of macular degeneration. I just wish I had known more about it so I could have taken the appropriate steps and avoided my devastated diagnoses.