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What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?

Age Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month

The month of February is Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Month. A period, where eyecare is of the utmost importance.

What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?

Age related macular degeneration or AMD is a leading cause of blindness. It’s a painless and usually progressive condition of the retina, which is the inner layer of the eye.

What makes this condition so serious, is that there is no treatment for the most common (dry) form.

Furthermore, early signs are easy to miss, which makes regular examinations by your optometrist vital.

At Davida van der Merwe Optometrist, Davida will examine your eyes for AMD by using a microscope, a retinal camera and an ocular coherence tomographer (OCT) to view, take photographs and scan the back of your eye.

Who is at risk for AMD?

The risk of AMD is higher if you are female, over 40 or if there is a history of AMD in your family.

“AMD is irreversible, so if any of these apply to you, please call 034 312 4602 for a consultation,” says Davida van der Merwe.

Can we prevent AMD?

A person can reduce the risk of developing AMD by making healthy lifestyle choices. These choices include:

Stop smoking

Smokers have a four times higher risk than non-smokers to get AMD. Even past smokers have double the risk, which improves over time.

Healthy diet

Eat dark green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli. Eating these vegetables raw will be even better for your health.

Also add colourful fruits and vegetables to your diet, as they are rich in carotenoids. Carotenoids help maintain the pigment in the macula.

It is also important to limit your intake of refined carbohydrates.


Ask your optometrist about AMD-specific multivitamins and minerals. Extensive research has identified the best antioxidant combination for those at risk for AMD.

Vitamins A, C and E, zinc and selenium, and lutein and zeaxanthin should all be included, although it must be in the correct dose.

Check which option is best for you before you start taking any supplements.

Older adults who lead an active lifestyle are less likely to get AMD.

Try this macula-friendly salad recipe: 

  • Break or cut a head of broccoli into small florets.
  • Cover in a dressing made up of equal quantities of mayonnaise and low fat yoghurt.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle over: 
    1 c Cranberries
    1 c Crispy bacon bits (so the men in your house will eat it)
    1/2 c Toasted slivered almonds

The broccoli is raw, so it’s a great source of fibre and it’s packed with vitamins A and C. There’s fibre in the almonds too, as well as vitamin E, magnesium and a few healthy types of fat. The yoghurt delivers potassium, protein and calcium and the cranberries are a fantastic source of vitamin C.

Did you know?

Macula is the Latin word for a spot or a stain. The macula in the eye is seen as a slightly darker area of the retina.

“During your examination, we will point it out to you on your photographs and scans,” says Davida van der Merwe.