Looking into age-related menopause and eyesight diseases for Healthy Vision Month... (Hey! Happy Healthy Vision Month to YOU!)

We wanted to see if there were any connections between macular degeneration and menopause, specifically. 

Starting with the 3 whats

What is age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?

Affecting more than 10 million Americans, AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss, pertaining mostly to the deterioration of the central part of the light-sensitive retina, known as the macula. AMD can occur in either or both eyes and at this time is considered incurable… but is preventable and stoppable to some extent when caught in time.

What happens... and what does it look like?

When a person has AMD, their vision blurs or blacks out from the center and moving outward to the sides and periphery. It’s the central part of their vision that is used for myriad daily tasks including reading and driving. Fine details are the domain of the macula, and when it’s deteriorating, fine details in their vision are either blurred or blacked out.

Consider this animation of the loss of central vision and how it can change during AMD. Scary, isn’t it?

 

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Wet or dry?

There are two types of AMD: wet and dry. 

It’s the dry type of macular degeneration that is known as age-related. The macula actually thins over time — as part of the aging process — and this thinning is the cause of blurring of that central vision, generally in both eyes.

The wet type of AMD? This type has more to do with an abnormal blood vessel beginning to grow behind a retina. Wet AMD vision loss happens more quickly due to damage from these vessels.

What about menopause and vision health?

We found a study of nearly 4,400 postmenopausal women, focused on the Association Between Reproductive Factors and Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Postmenopausal Women… yes, a total score of info on this topic. 

The conclusion shares that “... a longer duration of lactation appeared to protect against the development of late AMD. A longer duration of oral contraceptive pill use (aka birth control pills) was associated with a higher risk of late AMD.”

In both cases, weigh in the term “might”, as neither finding of “association” or “appearance” is definitive. If you've taken hormonal birth control for many years, you're not doomed to macular degeneration, but you might want to be more proactive in getting regular check ups.

Let’s turn to proactive and preventative actions

Preserving your vision and preventing AMD has a lot to do with maintaining your best general health. Nothing new, complicated, or special needs to be incorporated into your routine in order to impact and keep your best eye health. Good news, right? 

Take a look at the general choices of recommended health actions and see which ones are already activated. Then take another scan for the one/s that might be improved. It’s good stuff… some of it might even be fun!

Actions for eye and vision health

Regular eye exams: Critical for catching and heading off AMD and other vision illnesses and impairments. There are several age-related eye and vision conditions, including cataracts and glaucoma.

"Regular exercise, quitting smoking, and eating a nutritious diet rich in green, leafy vegetables are good not only for your eyes, but (also) for your overall health status," explains Dr. Jeffrey Heier, clinical instructor in ophthalmology at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and director of the Retina Service at Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston.

Eye vitamins for dry AMD?

As mentioned above, a nutritious rich in green, leafy veg is awesome. You may have already jumped to the question, “Are there nutritional supplements that might aid in preventing AMD?”

Treatment to slow or stop dry AMD, caught at the intermediate stage, may include “...a cocktail of high-dose ‘eye vitamins.’ The recipe includes vitamins A, C, and E, plus zinc and copper. "Eye vitamins will help to slow or prevent progression in about 25% of people," Dr. Heier says. "The exam can determine if you will benefit from vitamins."

Should you proactively begin taking high doses of these vitamins in order to prevent the onset of AMD? Dr Heier recommends against this and shares that the recommended diet rich in green, leafy veggies and exercise is generally the best course of action. 

This being said, only your eye doctor and your primary care doctor, with your collaboration and insights, can really comment on your personal best next steps, based on the current state of your overall health and vision.

Ask your medical, vision, and coach on your care team about:

  • Diet improvements 
  • Ideal supplementation based on your genetics, environments, and the current state of health
  • How to quit or decrease smoking
  • What the next physical exercise improvement might be… for fun, inspiration, pleasure, as well as improved health.

Your vision health is close — so close! — to your overall health and well being. It’s exciting and your next steps toward feeling even better, with more vitality, are totally in your hands. Onward!

 

Are you dealing with AMD or another vision impairment? How has it impacted your menopausal transition? How do you manage both? Please share your story with the Gennev community via our Community Forum.

 

Author

Gennev Staff

May 26, 2020

Medically Reviewed By

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