Olympia Optometrist Speaks About Macular Degeneration Prevention

Published on
January 10, 2023

Macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 50. With the technology available today and proper guidance, early detection and preventative measures can significantly reduce the risks of irreversible vision loss.

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a disease that affects the retinal tissue in the back of the eye. It is caused by a build-up of waste deposits in the central vision and can be brought on by factors such as age, sun damage, and poor nutrition. Most people experience minimal vision loss due to these waste deposits, however, in severe cases of wet AMD, significant irreversible vision loss can occur.

What are the different risk factors for macular degeneration?

There are several risk factors for developing or progressing macular degeneration, including:

  • Age: As we get older the risk of developing macular degeneration and it progressing grows dramatically
  • Smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of developing or progressing AMD by three times.
  • Poor nutrition: A diet lacking in green leafy vegetables, which contain nutrients important for retinal health, can increase the risk of AMD.
  • UV exposure: Wearing sun protection can help prevent the progression of AMD or slow its onset.

What steps can you take to prevent macular degeneration?

While there are some risk factors for macular degeneration that we cannot control (such as age and family history), there are steps we can take to prevent or slow its onset:

Quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for developing or progressing macular degeneration. Studies have shown that smoking can increase the risk of developing or progressing AMD by three times. If you don't smoke, it is important to avoid starting in order to protect your eye health. If you already smoke, quitting smoking can greatly benefit your overall eye health and reduce your risk of developing or progressing macular degeneration.

Diet rich in green leafy vegetables or taking supplements

Eating a diet rich in green leafy vegetables can help support retinal health and reduce the risk of developing or progressing macular degeneration. Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, are high in nutrients that are important for maintaining healthy eyes, including lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C. These nutrients help to protect the retina from damage and may reduce the risk of developing AMD. In addition to consuming these nutrients through a healthy diet, they can also be found in supplements. However, it is always best to try and get nutrients from natural sources, such as food, whenever possible.

If a diet that includes the right amount of lutein and zeaxanthin is not easy for you, we highly recommend taking a reliable AREDS2 formula supplement. These supplements include the right dosage of carotenoids that have been shown in the Age Related Eye Disease Study 2 to greatly reduce the progression of AMD.  

Wear sun protection

Exposure to UV rays is a risk factor for developing or progressing macular degeneration. Wearing sun protection, such as sunglasses, can help to block out UV rays and reduce the risk of developing AMD. It is especially important to wear sun protection when participating in outdoor activities or spending extended periods of time outside.

Regular eye exams in Olympia

Getting a yearly comprehensive eye exam is an important step in protecting your eye health and preventing or slowing the onset of macular degeneration. During a comprehensive eye exam, our optometrist will check your vision and assess the overall health of your eyes. They will look for any signs of macular degeneration or other eye conditions and provide treatment as needed. Eye exams are especially important for people who are at higher risk for developing AMD, such as those with a family history of the disease or those who have certain risk factors, such as smoking or UV exposure. By getting a yearly comprehensive eye exam, you can ensure that any changes in your vision or eye health are detected early and treated promptly. If you are overdue for an eye exam or are concerned about your risk for macular degeneration, call at (360) 491-2121 to schedule an eye exam.

Amsler grid

An Amsler grid is a tool that can be used to monitor vision changes. It is a checkered grid with a central dot. To use it, cover one eye and look at the central dot. Make sure that there are no missing or wavy lines on the grid. Repeat the process with the other eye. If there are distorted lines on the grid, it may be an indication of macular degeneration. It is typically given to patients who already have macular degeneration or are being closely monitored for it. It is a quick and easy way to monitor any changes in vision.

Schedule a medical eye exam at American Family Vision Clinic

Macular degeneration is a disease that can cause vision loss, but there are steps we can take to prevent or slow its onset. By following the tips listed above, we can help protect our vision and maintain good eye health. If you are concerned about your risk for macular degeneration or want to learn more about how to protect your vision, call us at (360) 491-2121. Patients with AMD or who have a high risk for AMD visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of advanced medical eyecare services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.



Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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