Among all the organs in the human body, eye is probably the one people value the most. So it is quite natural that people become worried when any eye or vision related problem occurs. Most vision related problems are short term and can easily be cured. But some vision-related disorders have no specific cure. Major eye related disorders and conditions include cataracts and macular degeneration, both of which can lead to blindness. While there are several treatments available for cataract that can restore or improve failing eyesight, people with macular degeneration are having fewer options.
What Is Macular Degeneration:
Macular Degeneration is an age related eye disorder, which leads to distorted and blurred vision. This can be extremely problematic when it comes to regular activities like reading or driving. This is seen mostly in men and women in their 50s, but at times it can strike earlier too. In the elderly population, macular degeneration is the main cause of irreversible blindness. In this disorder, cells in the macular region deteriorate slowly, affecting the central vision. Progression of age related macular degeneration varies from one person to another.
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The macula is a yellowish small area near the retina that helps people distinguish between fine details. It is a light-sensitive tissue. Macular degeneration does not cause any pain and are of 2 types — wet and dry.
Symptoms Of Macular Degeneration:
The most commonplace symptoms of macular degeneration are:
- Straight objects appearing bent or wavy
- Blurry spot affecting the centre of vision
- Objects changing size /color when viewed with one eye
Causes Of Macular Degeneration:
The exact cause of macular degeneration is unclear, but doctors have identified a few triggers that can pave way for this disorder. The identified risk factors are:
- Age: Macular degeneration affects people as they step into their 40s and 50s. This is predominantly an age-related disorder.
- Heredity: Macular degeneration can run in the family and be passed on for several generations. If your parents or a relative had this disorder, then you stand a higher risk of contracting the disorder. However, what genes actually lead to its onset is yet to be discovered.
- Gender: It is believed that women are more affected by macular degeneration than men.
- Race: Studies have indicated that macular degeneration affects more Chinese and White people than dark skinned people.
Diagnosis Of Macular Degeneration:
Ophthalmologists test people for macular degeneration when they are over 60 and blurred vision affects their life. They can use special eye drops to enlarge or dilate pupils for this. They can also resort to using numerous objects and designs to test the visual conditions.
Remedies To Treat Macular Degeneration:
While medical science has not yet come up with a cure for macular degeneration, the many patients afflicted by this condition are not entirely without options either. With dietary and lifestyle changes, victims of this disorder can lead a better life and slow down the progression of this disorder. You need to include certain herbs, foods, and nutrients in your diet and get rid of unhealthy habits to cope with this disorder. For this, you need not spend a lot of money or deprive yourself of delicious dishes throughout your life. But, we have found out some simple ways to beat macular degeneration. Read on to more about the remedies to cure macular degeneration:
1. Vitamin A And Beta-Carotene:
Vitamin A, as well as beta-carotene plays a pivotal role in maintaining eye health in humans. Beta-carotene offers nourishment to eye’s photo receptors and aids macular functioning. It also helps prevent photo oxidation of the lens. So, make sure your diet contains ample amounts of these nutrients to slow down macular degeneration.
Lycopene and similar carotenoids found in vegetables like tomatoes are important to fight the onset of macular degeneration. Studies have shown regular intake of lycopene reduces macular degeneration risk. In fact, lycopene can be useful to fight other types of visual disorders too. A tomato a day can definitely keep your eyes healthy and fine!
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid found mostly in algae. It accumulates in tissues of fish species like trout, salmon and shrimp. It is a useful tool to bolster eye health. Include these sea foods in your diet to fight macular degeneration.
4. Lutein And Zeaxanthin:
You need to include certain antioxidants in your diet to fight macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two such antioxidants and they can be found in plants with bright hued fruits. You need to include vegetables like romaine lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, kale and spinach. Lutein can help delay the onset of dry macular degeneration by preventing sun damage.
5. Green Tea:
Green Tea is said to be beneficial for fighting a number of health conditions. It helps protect body parts from free radical damage. Its consumption can also be good for those with degenerative visual disorders.
6. Grape Seed Extract:
Grape seed extract has powerful antioxidants that protect the body organs and the eye from free radicals. Studies have shown they are also useful to prevent cataract.
Taurine is one amino acid and a vital antioxidant that helps in regeneration of worn out eye tissues. Taurine helps the eye evade ultraviolet damage and retain central vision in old age. Deficit of this amino acid can lead to degeneration of vision.
8.Ginkgo Biloba Extract:
Ginkgo biloba extract is rich in antioxidants and aids in cellular metabolism. It helps prevent degenerative damages to the eye. Studies have shown that it can be a useful tool to fight against retinal damages.
9. Vitamin E, Gamma Tocopherol:
Vitamin E and Gamma tocopherol, can aid in reducing retinal damage to a large extent. Thankfully, you can easily find such nutrients in many supplements. You can also take Vitamin E supplements or capsules.
Consumption of folate can be good for your eye health and it is necessary to keep degenerative eye diseases at bay. It can be found in plenty of vegetables and foods including soybeans, lentils, sunflower seeds, seaweed, corn and green peas etc.
11. Avoid Low Quality Carbs:
Eating foods made of refined starches and excess sugar is not only bad for the waistline and heart health, but are also detrimental to eye health. Eating foods made with low-quality carbohydrate can double the risks of eye sight loss. A study by Tufts University has shown that people who eat food with high glycemic index can be affected by macular degeneration more than others. Long term consumption of high-glycemic foods increases blood sugar level, which can affect the retina adversely.
12. Evade Sources Of Blue Light:
To avoid worsening of macular degeneration, you can evade sources of blue light and ultraviolet ray.
13. Maintain Proper Eye Hygiene:
To stop worsening of macular degeneration, it is important to maintain proper eye hygiene. You have to stop and avoid activities that can be stressful for the eye and macula. Those who wear contact lens need to be extra careful. They need to keep the lens clean from dust, articles and grime. Washing the lens with suitable liquid from time to time is also necessary. Never go to sleep without taking them off.
14. Do Eye Exercises:
While you cannot prevent macular degeneration from affecting central vision in the long run, it is definitely possible to delay its onset by resorting to specific eye exercises. Specific eye exercises help you to strengthen eye tissues and muscles. You can find several useful resources on vision enhancing exercises on the web.
15. Refrain From Activities that Strain the Eyes:
When you have macular degeneration, it makes sense to refrain from activities that can strain the eye, especially the macula and retina. Avoid watching television for long hours. For the same reason, take a break when you work in front of computer screens. When you go out in the sun, wear a sun glass with UV protection. If you have the habit of reading books at night, use proper lamps that offer required illumination.
16. Eat Moringa Leaf:
There are few natural sources and extracts that contain more or equal amount of nutrients and antioxidants as moringa leaf. It contains high amount of Vitamin-E, Vitamin-C, beta- carotene and Zinc. These help victims of degenerative eye disorder to cope with the disease better. Its antioxidants help prevent retina damage to an extent. The zinc found in moringa Leaf also slows down growth of the disorder. The leaf can be found in capsule form in market nowadays.
17. Do Eye Checkups Regularly:
Since macular degeneration lacks any sure shot cure, prevention and early detection can be the best option for you. Once you step into your 40s, it would be a good move to go for an eye check up by a veteran eye specialist every 6 months or so. This will help identify the disorder at an early stage and help you cope better. Since dry macular degeneration can lead to the wet variant, it is mandatory that people with the former condition opt for periodical checkups.
18. Reduce Liquor Intake:
It is believed that excess alcohol intake is detrimental for victims of macular degeneration. When you are diagnosed with the disorder, you should reduce or stop alcohol consumption.
19. Avoid Smoking:
Eye experts believe that smoking tobacco can enhance the risk of macular degeneration and also worsen it. It is also necessary to keep away from passive smoking as far as possible.
20. Use Amsler Grid:
Ophthalmologists often recommend the use of Amsler grid to enhance their visual performance. It can be pasted on the wall or furniture to monitor your vision every day.
Other Treatment Options For Macular degeneration:
Apart from the above mentioned natural remedies for macular degeneration, one can also opt for some conventional treatment plans to deal with macular degeneration better. Here are a few of them:
1. Photodynamic Therapy:
While there is no standard cure for wet macular degeneration, doctors and ophthalmologists use photodynamic therapy and laser surgery to give relief to the victims. This is not a long term solution though. Laser surgery is deployed to eliminate leaky and fragile blood vessels in the eye. This cannot be administered to all victims of macular degeneration. Even after this treatment is given, new blood vessels can be generated. In photo dynamic therapy drugs like verteporfin is injected to get rid of new blood vessels and this effectively slows down the vision decline.
2. Anti-VEGF Medications:
Wet macular degeneration is also treated with anti-VEGF medications, which aims to thwart the vision getting worse. It helps stop further blood vessels from developing.
3. Lens Replacement:
When macular degeneration reaches an advanced stage and regular methods do not show any result, telescopic lens implant is an option. It is expensive and the lens is used to replace natural lens of the human eye. It can enhance both close-up and distance vision.
4. Low Vision Aids:
Some victims of this disorder are also advised to use specially developed low vision aids. This can include books with enlarged text, lenses that enlarge things etc.
[ Read: Home Remedies For Eye Floaters ]
Living With Macular Degeneration:
As a matter of fact, when you get diagnosed with macular degeneration, it does not mean that you are going to lose your eye sight entirely! Even if central vision degenerates with time, you will still be able to carry out most of your daily and domestic activities without hassles.
With early detection and treatment, you can cope with the disease better. At times, repeat the treatments. To get best results from the treatments, adhere to the guidance of your ophthalmologist.
Along with medications and therapies to slow down its aggression on your eyes, you need to make changes on your diet and lifestyle, as suggested by medical experts. With precautions and preventive measures, you can continue with life post detection of macular degeneration without facing many hurdles.
Do you or someone you know suffers from macular degeneration? What natural treatment for macular degeneration are you following? Share with us.
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