Sun not only conjures up color on our face, it also strengthens bones and eliminates depression. In recent years, however, the golden sky disc has come heavily into the conversation: Without adequate protection from the intense sunshine, it is badly ordered around us, even around our eyes.
Solar radiation affects AMD risk
So if you want to enjoy the sun, you can not avoid a proper sunscreen. And that also affects the eyes. Researchers have found that older people are more susceptible to so-called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) the more and longer they have been exposed to sunlight at a younger age. Besides solar radiation, atherosclerosis, smoking and a low serum beta-carotene concentration are associated with an increased AMD risk.
What is a macular degeneration?
In macular degeneration, the site of the retina, which is responsible for central, sharp vision, is damaged. The photosensitive cells die at this point. As a result, those affected can no longer see really sharp at this point. Reading or driving for example becomes impossible.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of visual acuity loss in old age - around 20 percent of 65- to 74-year-olds suffer from it, compared to 35 percent of 75-85 year olds.
In Germany alone, around three million people suffer from visual disturbances. The disease usually begins after the age of 55 and leads to blindness in the late stages. This affects over seven million people in Europe. This makes AMD the most common cause of blindness in industrialized countries.
Timely recognition is important!
The cause of the disease is not yet known. Scientists suspect that the layer of pigment under the retina is destroyed over the years by deposited metabolites. Patients with AMD often find that kitchen and bathroom tiles suddenly appear crooked or curbside disappears.
The reason for this is the changes in the retina. Because the healthy eye often compensates for the visual changes of the diseased eye, one should occasionally cover alternately the right and the left eye, so as to perceive changes in the vision of the individual eyes even earlier.
Amsler grid Tset
With the so-called Amsler grid test, it is easy to check for symptoms of AMD. The grille is held in front of the eye in bright lighting at a distance of 30 to 40 centimeters. Glasses or contact lenses should be discontinued for testing. With one hand, one eye is covered, while the other eye fixes the dot in the middle. If the lines are crooked and consumed around the fixed point, the affected person should visit an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
Even if there is no definitive cure at the moment, the progression of the disease can be stopped.
Have the diagnosis checked by the ophthalmologist
If an AMD is suspected, the ophthalmologist can confirm the diagnosis with an ophthalmoscopy. Changes in the center of the retina, such as typical pigment compaction, can be detected early on and before the onset of visual disturbances. In general, ophthalmologists distinguish between two forms: the most common form, with more than 80 percent, is dry macular degeneration and 15 percent less common form of wet macular degeneration.
The dry macular degeneration often goes unnoticed for years and initially hardly affects the eyesight. However, the dry macular degeneration at any time in the wet macular degeneration, which has a much more serious disease, go over.
The wet macular degeneration is much more aggressive: it can lead to serious vision loss within a few weeks or months. There is currently no clear therapy for either form, but many measures can improve vision.
Therapy approaches for macular degeneration
In wet macular degeneration new vessels form in the retina, which can be destroyed by means of a laser treatment. However, the patient must accept the scarring of the retina, which in turn leads to visual disturbances. Therefore, this therapy is only possible if the vessels are not located directly in the macula.
More promising is so-called photodynamic therapy (PDT), in which a photosensitive dye with the aid of a cold laser, which is directed to the eye, is activated.
The dye itself infuses into the body via the arm vein and accumulates in the newly formed, leaking blood vessels in the eye. The ophthalmologist activates the dye with the help of the laser beam so that the diseased vessels are closed. Since the photosensitive layer of the retina was permanently damaged before the procedure, this outpatient treatment can stop the progression of the disease, but can not fundamentally improve it. In many cases multiple treatment is necessary.
After treatment, the patient should wear special eye protection for some time, which the ophthalmologist will give to the patient. Long-sleeved clothing to protect against sun and light is necessary until the remaining inactivated dye is completely eliminated after 48 hours.
Prevention helps: Wear sunglasses!
Sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats are an effective weapon against too much sunlight - not just for the skin, but also for the eyes. However, if you want to protect yourself effectively against the sun, when buying glasses should pay attention to the following: A pair of sunglasses should absorb at least 99 percent of UV rays up to 400 nanometers wavelength.
The filtering of the UV rays takes place in the glass or plastic material and is independent of the degree of tinting. It's not the darkest colored glasses that protect the best, but sunglasses that are made of high quality material with a built-in UV filter.
Pay attention to the quality of the sunglasses
Sunglasses bearing the CE mark comply with the requirements of an EU directive that guarantees adequate protection. Therefore, only buy eyewear with a CE mark. With slightly curved glasses of poor glass quality, it can lead to distortions in the glass. This can be easily recognized:
- Take the glasses in both hands and hold them in front of a straight line
- Now push the glasses back and forth. With bad glasses you will notice that the straight line bulges and distorts. You can do without these glasses.
- The glasses have to sit properly. Neither the nose pad nor the hinges or straps may press.
- Glasses with scratched or scratched lenses are useless. Every little scratch in the lens forces the eye to constantly correct, the eyes tire.
If you are not sure which sunglasses to buy, ask the optician for expert advice.