Do you have a grandparent dealing with vision loss caused by macular degeneration? Or, perhaps your older sister is developing tell-tale signs of the disease? Maybe you’ve even watched more than one relative adjust to life with AMD. And as frightening as it can be to even consider losing your central vision, if you have a relative with deteriorating sight it’s likely that the thought has crossed your mind at one point or another.
So, how does having a relative with AMD affect your health directly? While not all types of macular degeneration are hereditary, certain genes have been found to be strongly associated with a person’s risk of AMD. In fact, the lifetime risk of developing late-stage AMD is 50% for people who have a family member with the degenerative condition.
That said, do you really know whether or not you have a genetic predisposition to AMD? Are you even aware of whether anyone in your family has ever had AMD? With no cure and a prevalence twice that of Alzheimer’s, it’s crucial to know your family’s history of age-related macular degeneration. Conveniently, summer get-togethers and family reunions can offer ample opportunity for you to learn more about your family’s history of eye disease.
Make no mistake, being armed with your family medical history is a key component in protecting your vision from genetic eye disease. This valuable information can help both you and your ophthalmologist take appropriate steps to lessen your risk and preserve healthy sight. So during your next family gathering this summer make an effort to acquire information and ask close relatives the following questions.:
- Do you have AMD (Either early or late stage)?
- How is your vision currently?
- Do you know of any other distant relatives who have dealt with eye disease or macular degeneration in the past?
Consider writing down the information you gather in a journal or notebook as it is easy to forget details. Plus, you can easily pass your notes along to younger relatives (or as needed). Remember, it’s also important that you tell your family members of any ocular disease or condition that you may have.
However, there are many other things that can increase your risk for macular degeneration besides genetics. For instance, controllable factors such as smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise can all contribute to eye disease and significantly increase your risk for the blinding disease.
If you do have a family history of macular degeneration, don’t fret too much- it does not necessarily mean that you’ll inevitably develop AMD. It should, however, encourage you to exercise regularly, maintain a balanced diet and visit the optometrist diligently. It is also fundamental that you begin taking a supplement with all three macular carotenoids to support retinal health in your younger years. Studies have shown that a formula combining Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin can not only change the course of disease, but improve visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. Regardless of whether AMD runs in your family, you can enhance vision in your younger years and protect vision in your later years with a combination of healthy lifestyle and a supplement like MacuHealth.