It’s fitting how February is both Heart Month and Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month because these two things tie together quite well.
This month you’ve probably read about how we are giving back to the Ottawa Heart Institute. If not, click here to see how you can be a part of our festivities.
Age-related macular degeneration or ARMD/AMD (for short), is currently the leading cause of blindness in North America for those who are 55 years and older. Read on to find out how the heart and the eyes are connected.
What is ARMD?
Simply put, ARMD is a condition that can affect your central vision causing a varying amount of blur while sparing your peripheral vision. This disease affects the macula which is in the back layer of your eye, the retina, and also the structure responsible for seeing fine detail and central vision.
There are two different types of ARMD, dry and wet. The early-stage starts as the dry form which can cause a gradual change in your central vision. Unfortunately, with ageing, the dry stage can sometimes convert into the wet stage which causes leakage of vessels in the back of the eye. Both conditions can be seen on a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist at our clinic. We also have OCT (optical coherence tomography) technology that allows us to see layers underneath the macula. This allows us to detect early macular changes for our patients.
Who is at risk?
Just like the name suggests, age is a big component in the risk factors of developing ARMD. There are other high-risk factors such as smoking, UV exposure, arteriosclerosis (heart disease) and hypertension. A healthy heart can help with keeping your eyes healthy! As well, individuals with a family history of ARMD and individuals with lighter coloured eyes are at a higher risk.
What can I do?
Have your eyes checked regularly by an optometrist because at every comprehensive eye exam we evaluate your retina which includes your macula. Adopt a healthy lifestyle and eat lots of green and leafy veggies including orange peppers. Wear sunglasses anytime you are outdoors and don’t forget about the wintertime for UV protection. For more information on ARMD and nutrition check out our blog post on food for the eyes.
February is a busy month with Valentine’s Day and Family Day but make sure you take some time to have your eyes checked! Hope to see you soon!