Macular degeneration is the disease of the retina. The center of the retina is called the macula. It’s the most sensitive part of the back of the eye. There’s the highest concentration of nerve tissue there and if that tissue starts degenerating then we call it macular degeneration.
There are several different causes, one is hereditary so if it’s the family history you are predisposed and you want to be getting routine exams to see if you are developing that. The other is age and normal age changes do degenerate tissue and so, nutrition is huge and what we can do as far as preventive.
You want to be eating green leafy vegetables. You want to be eating fruits, mostly in the berry family and going on to the next category, ultraviolet rays, overexposure to ultraviolet rays will prematurely degenerate the macula. So you want to be wearing protective sun wear when you are outdoors, and there is a difference in the quality of sun wear.
The ultraviolet rays, they are UVA and UVB and you need to protect from both. When you go to the store to buy sunglasses and they say ultraviolet protection think of it like sunscreen for your skin, that saying ultraviolet protection isn’t enough. There are SPF protection factors of the sunscreens from 15 to 35 to 50, you know, different varying degrees of protection. Well it’s the same way with sunglasses.
All lenses have a little bit of ultraviolet filtering to them and a lot of people mistakenly think it’s the tint. The darker the glasses, the more protective they are, but it’s not the tint; it’s the ultraviolet filters that are colorless in them. You can actually have cheap sunglasses that are damaging to the eyes and allow more ultraviolet because the lenses don’t have ultraviolet filters, but the darkness will allow the pupil to dilate and more of the harmful ultraviolet can get in there.
So, you need to buy your sun wear from a reputable optical shop. An optical business, a private doctor’s office, in general, is only going to carry quality 100% UVA, UVB protecting sun wear, as opposed to possibly a grocery store or drug store type sun lens, you are not always getting 100% UVA and UVB so you just need to investigate the quality of the lens.
When you talk about name brands, you know, when you say Ray-Ban or Maui Jim or Oakley, those big sunglass companies do have 100% UVA/UVB. So you can be relatively be assured that you have a quality sunglass when you stick with those big names, but when you get into no name, off name, you need to be dealing with a reputable source, your eye doctor, or investigate. Make sure if you can’t get the information on the lenses then I wouldn’t go there. Make sure you know the quality of your lens.
So the ultraviolet protection is another thing that will affect macular degeneration. The other is smoking. Unfortunately, that’s another problem that the smoking ties up the oxygen in your blood; you don’t get enough oxygen to the macula for proper nutrition and that will bring on the degeneration at a much faster rate.
The other thing is excessive alcohol and I am not talking about a social drink. As we all know, there are some benefits to an occasional glass of wine. I am talking about excessive use, you know, three, four, five drinks of alcohol, hard alcohol; that can definitely increase the risk of macular degeneration.
And then the other things are health disorders, circulatory disorders, high cholesterol, high blood pressure; you are not getting a proper blood flow to that tissue and that will increase the risk of macular degeneration.