Owing to the pandemic, we have witnessed a delay in people coming for follow-ups, which has worsened the retinal health of people suffering from AMD and Diabetic Retinopathy.
A diet rich in antioxidants is recommended to slow down progression of AMD
Prevalence of Retinal disorders such as Age-related Macular degeneration and Diabetic Macular Edema are high in India, with these diseases being the major cause of irreversible blindness, especially among people aged 50 and above. Retina Diseases are typically difficult to diagnose at an early stage, because of the nature of the disease, vision deteriorates gradually. Today ~14% of all blindness is caused by AMD and Diabetic Retinopathy and a recent study reported 4 in 100 people over the age of 70 years suffer from AMD in India. In addition to age being a detrimental factor, there are other risk factors associated with AMD such as smoking, co-existing illnesses like hypertension and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, dietary factors, and family history. This underlines the need for awareness around AMD and to understand the importance of regular eye examinations.
Dr. Nitin Prabhudesai Medical Director, Insight Vision Foundation, said, “Owing to the pandemic, we have witnessed a delay in people coming for follow-ups, which has worsened the retinal health of people suffering from AMD and Diabetic Retinopathy. Major cases of retinal diseases are observed in the working population that fall in the age bracket of 35-45, majorly due to unhealthy eating styles and also excessive smoking. If diagnosed at an early stage then it is not painful, but if it is delayed, then the condition can worsen leading to complete vision loss which is irreversible.”
While one may take necessary precautions, it’s important to stay on top of your eye health in every possible manner. Here are four ways that can help keep these progressive retinal diseases at check:
1. Keeping a close watch on your eye health – Regular eye check-up is one of the safest ways to avoid AMD & DR related complications because the condition sometimes gets neglected in its initial stage. These examinations help detect the speed of progression to avoid complete vision loss.
Dr. Nishanth Kumar, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Vitreo Retinal Surgeon & Uveitis Specialist said, “Patients can take simple at home tests to examine their vision, by closing one eye and checking for blurred vision. In case of impaired colour vision, decreased contrast or colour sensitivity, patients must visit a retina specialist”. Listen to your doctor, only an ophthalmologist can diagnose the severity of macular degeneration by identifying its stage and symptoms. In case of diseases progression, the doctor can prescribe an advanced treatment option thus saving your vision at an early stage.
“With access to more information, we are seeing increase in awareness related to retinal diseases. Earlier, people inferred decreased vision is due to cataract, but now they are more familiar with chronic conditions such as age related macular degeneration that can also cause blindness if not treated at the right time. AMD is a disease that requires active monitoring, 20% require active treatment like injections in the eye of specialist drugs. However, in the past 2 years we have seen a decline in treatment adherence, as people were scared to visit the clinic, or had limited resources, which led to disease progression such as scarring, development of macular hemorrhages, and so on. Approximately 10-15% of the patients that required active monitoring, did not adhere to treatments, that led to disease progression and significant loss in vision.”, added Dr. Kumar.
3. Plan your Lifestyle better (Eye care is not limited only to eyes) – Lifestyle changes not only play a significant role for the betterment of our overall health, but it can also help slow down the progression of AMD & DR. Avoid smoking, it is the biggest modifiable risk factor of AMD3. Additionally, protecting eyes from sunlight, reducing screen time, and controlling medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases are some proven measures that delay the onset of the disease.
4. Opting for appropriate food group – A diet rich in antioxidants, especially carotenoids are recommended to slow down progression of AMD. This includes carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, mangoes, plums, and turnips. Right food for eye health should contain vitamin C, Omega 3 fatty acids, oily fish, vitamin E and high protein food like meat, eggs etc.1
With February being the AMD Awareness month, it’s important for us all to understand how and whom AMD targets the most. It’s essential to spread awareness about eye health and an adherence to eye treatment for all.
(Dr. Nishanth Kumar, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Vitreo Retinal Surgeon & Uveitis Specialist)
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