AMD, or age-related macular degeneration, is a debilitating eye disease that affects more than an estimated 10 million Americans, says Ophthalmologist Dr. Mark R. Fleckner, MD. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation*, it’s the number one reason for vision loss, even more than glaucoma and cataracts combined. As its name implies, macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula which is the functional area of the retina at the back of the eye.
There are two types of macular degeneration, says Garden City Ophthalmologist Mark R. Fleckner, MD. The most common one is called “dry” and affects about 85-90% of those suffering from the disease. The other type called “wet” is less common and involves leaking of fluid from the surrounding blood vessels, adds Mark R. Fleckner, MD.
“Aging of the eyes is common,” says Dr. Mark Fleckner, “because the general structure of the eye deteriorates with time.” Since the macula is a big part of what lets you see, it’s affected too. The good news is that in some cases of wet macular degeneration, it’s treatable with prescription medications, Dr. Mark R. Fleckner of Garden City says.
Unfortunately, we don’t know enough about the origin of dry macular degeneration, so no FDA-approved treatments are available yet, says Dr. Mark Fleckner of Garden City. Even so, we do know a few things that will limit the degenerating effects of AMD.
Garden City Ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Fleckner says since a large part of AMD is caused by inflammation, controlling the inflammation in the body is the primary key to slowing down AMD as you age. His primary recommendation for controlling inflammation is by not smoking. “Smoking is the #1 contributor to AMD,” Mark R. Fleckner, MD says. “We encourage our patients to stop smoking and also to eat a healthy diet with plenty of antioxidants and lots of omega-3 foods.”
Some of the most important foods you can eat to slow down macular degeneration are the dark green vegetables, Ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Fleckner says, like kale, broccoli, spinach, Swiss chard, and parsley. No other food contains the micro-nutrients found in these dark green vegetables, and it profoundly affects the rate of degeneration, he adds.
“There is also an over-the-counter supplement just for eyes that I like to recommend,” adds Mark R. Fleckner, MD. It’s called AREDS 2, by Preservision*, and it contains high levels of a specific combination of the right vitamins and minerals needed to help reduce the progression of AMD. “It’s backed by more than 20 years of research from the National Eye Institute,” Mark R. Fleckner, MD says, “and it contains everything that’s helpful to slow the progression of the disease.”