Join one of our leading registered nurses at The Arbor Company, Suzanne Price, as she dives into the most common vision impairment for seniors 50 and older, Macular Degeneration, otherwise known as AMD or age-related vision loss.
Susan shares her wealth of knowledge and expertise in this info-packed session, including what you can do to take action against this very preventable condition. At The Arbor Company, we believe knowledge is truly power. Take a proactive stance to your eye health and visit one of our communities or contact our team of experts anytime at (404) 237-4026 to learn more!
Hello, everybody, and welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. Thank you so much for being with us. We are touching on a topic we have yet to cover on the show, macular degeneration. What it is, signs and symptoms to look for, and how you could slow progression of the disease. Suzanne Price is with us to discuss all of that and more. Suzanne, how are you today?
I'm great. Thank you. How are you, Melissa?
It's always a good day when you're on the show. Speaking of that, tell everybody why we like having you on so much. What's your background? What do you do for the Arbor company?
I am a registered nurse. I've been with Arbor for seven plus years. And I travel to the different communities. My official title is Resident Care Specialist, so I support the clinical aspects in each community. I train, I fill in if a director is not in the building, and I kind of provide that oversight down in the trenches, if you will, to make sure that those things we have put in place to provide best practice are actually taking place and taking place in the best way possible.
Yeah. You're our best eyes and ears when it comes to the health of our seniors within the communities. And you and I had a discussion about another topic and you said, we need to discuss this. I need to have a show where we can discuss this topic and I said, "You know what? We haven't covered this before." I don't know why, but here we are, and this is going to help so many people. So what is macular degeneration, first and foremost, and what does someone with the disease experience?
So I am, I have become about macular degeneration because I did not realize until recently when I was really looking into it, first of all, it's very preventable in terms of it getting to the advanced stages, if you catch it early. But the caveat is, in the early stages, we don't have symptoms normally. So it's that conundrum of then how do we do that. But let me explain a little bit about it. The macula is part of your retina. And it's called, macular degeneration. What we're gonna talk about is age related macular degeneration. You'll see it as AMD, the initials, and that's kind of what you see everywhere. Approximately eleven million folks, seniors, in the US today have it. It is the most common vision impairment with folks fifty and above. And as I said, it is very much something that you can as a person advocate for yourself and monitor.
So what is significant about macular degeneration is it affects your central vision So you still have your peripheral, but like, Melissa, I couldn't see your face. I could see the sides and the walls, but I could not see your face. Which, of course, when you think about, okay, what does that look like in our day, driving, you know, reading, just interacting in a way that you can see people and and have that quality of life, hobbies. Really anything that requires vision in the in terms of navigating throughout your day. That part of the eye is what controls that. And so when there is an issue there, we start to lose a part of our vision, and it takes a bit of time, it's over a few years. But as I said, in the early stages, and sometimes intermediate, we have no symptoms. So if we wait till we have symptoms, we are very far advanced in that disease and then our ability to really manage it has been curtailed quite a bit.
Wow. Okay. So when you describe it to me, as someone who doesn't have it. I'm trying to imagine what that is. You did a great job, you know, peripherals good, straight on, maybe not so much. But if we're not having symptoms, and I'm assuming it's sort of a very slow, we start to lose it very, very slowly, which is why we probably don't notice. So what are maybe some of the early signs, symptoms that we can be aware of if we don't have anything. How do we get this checked out to prevent it before it progresses?
Perfect question. Glad you asked it. So the most important thing we can do, and this is, this is non negotiable. We need to see our eye doctor every year. And when you go you need to make sure that you have the drops in your eye that dilate your eye. That is the exam that will show up if there are any issues with your macula. We sometimes go and have glasses fitted and we get the vision test, and we look in, you know, different magnifying to see what exactly our vision is. That is not the extent that we need. We need the dilation eye exam to test for macular degeneration. So that's really the thing that we need to do.
If you go every year you will catch it, hopefully, in the early stages, but the other thing you can do is something at home. You can do every day. And I'm, I know you won't be able to see this very well, but I love this test. So I'm gonna show what I can. It's called the Amsler test. And it's a grid. It is just a square grid. In the very middle, there's a dot. Every day is recommended that you hold it about what I'm holding from you, Melissa, but you've gotta cover one eye. Because one eye may have macular degeneration and the other may not. And that's the other piece. Your one eye may be compensating for something going on with your other. So you cover the one eye and look at it, and then you do the same thing with the other eye. If there are waves in it, and when I say that, when I first looked at this I was like, "I have macular degeneration". We're talking significant waves. Okay? So don't be scared if your paper's a little wrinkled. Then that is a sign. And it's actually, research shows that it picks it up pretty accurately with this in the early stages. So if you have any kind of difference in this, it, you know, it's not a, oh you have macular degeneration. What it is, you need to make an appointment and go see your eye doctor. It could be something else. It could be something totally different, but it is kind of the litmus test for you to know red flag, I need to go have this checked out. And that's called the Ansler, a-n-s-l-e-r test. You can Google this. It comes up on any site. It it's very easy to access. The other place that you can get it, the center that I tell everyone about all the time, is the National Institute of Aging website. Which is a legitimate nonprofit site, which I like because we know the reputation is going to be scientifically proven, and you're getting the most updated information. They have a whole section on eye health and vision. So that's a great place to go for resources.
Yeah. And and now Suzanne's just made it to where nobody has an excuse. You can literally print that out, put it aside somewhere anywhere, and maybe just once a week. Is to take a peek at it and make sure nothing has changed from the week before. So yeah. I like simplicity, and that's about as simple as it gets. It doesn't take any additional time to do it. So, okay. So if somebody does have it. Maybe they do that test and like, I gotta go get checked out. They get dilated. The doc says, hey, you know, we got a problem. What are some of the common treatments for macular degeneration that we're aware of now and how can we at home, or in an Arbor community, ensure that they've got all the tools to slow progression of the disease.
Another great question, because I'm also passionate about eye drops and having those inserted correctly. So if it is in the early stages, it's kind of a watch and wait. And every doctor is different and every person's different. So, you know, it's not really a blanket statement. You may be told you have early, and they want to do the AREDs, vitamins, or they want to do something. So, you know, just know that that's gonna be between you and your doctor, but a lot of times it's just watching it if it's in the early stages. Intermediate and perhaps early, there are some, supplements called AREDs, a-r-e-d-s. And what is cool about AREDs is that it is a long term research that age related eye disease study. And what they did is study our eye health over a long period of time and they came up with the supplements that are needed to restore some of the supplements that we find naturally in our retina area to keep our eyes healthy that we lose over time. Our bodies will not reproduce it. We have to take it in. So AREDs, and I'm sure a lot of folks are familiar with that or that rings a bell, they're it's AREDs vitamins or preservision. So, you can take it by mouth, and then sometimes there are additional eye drops that the doctor will prescribe. One thing that I am very passionate about, because I take everyone's vision very seriously, is that as I have observed residents instill eye drops, I've realized that a lot of times they're really not getting them where they need to be. And it's kind of running down, you know, or it's just not hitting right inside that eye. You know, we lose our fine motor coordination as we get older. It's hard to do, create that little pocket, take the eye drop and get it right in that eye and instill that drop. So that's something that our care staff will, as part of their administration of medication, will include. And they will do it correctly and we monitor it to make sure that everyone is getting the eye drops that they should. That is something that I do believe is probably not taking place as accurately as it should be and as consistently with our residents who are not in that supervisory situation.
Yeah. So when you think about it, it's, you know, when people put in just normal eye drops and their eyes are normal, like, Visine or, you know, they're getting, like, liquid drops for their contacts or something. We don't think about it needing to be precise when we put it in. But for this medication, that needs to be the case. And so I'm glad you mentioned that because, you know, unless your doctor is very specific in telling you to do that, you don't know any better so this is why we have you here. So, you already gave us some great resources, and by the way, the preservision and the supplement you mentioned, you can get that anywhere. Right? Like Walmart?
You know, I believe I've seen it Costco. So I believe so. I haven't really looked all over. And normally, the nice thing is if your doctor prescribes it, then Medicare should cover that. So I always tell folks go to the doctor and we should be anyway, you know, as part of this. So just have them write that prescription for you, and then you have it ongoing that way.
Perfect. Yeah. So as we wind down here, and you already gave some great resources for people to go to. Any additional resources that you can give us that can guide our viewers that could potentially help them.
Yes. Well, for example, there are some things we can do as a daily habit to lower our risk. If, someone is a smoker, stop smoking. For many reasons, that's just one of them. Okay? Get regular physical activity. Kind of think heart healthy. It's the same as we will talk about. It's a vascular. We're talking about vascular health. Your eyes have a vascular essence as well. So we wanna keep it very healthy. If you have high blood pressure, the more you can manage that, the healthier your eyes are gonna be. Obesity is an at risk factor. Here's a big one. Wearing four hundred UVA sunglasses when you're outside, because that is one of the risks for developing macular degeneration is damage to your eyes over time by not protecting, even on a cloudy day, wear those sunglasses. Age, of course, we can't change that, but there is a family history as well. So, you know, ask or you you may be aware of it already. So you know, if you have a hereditary factor, you should kinda be specifically honed in on this and perhaps go sooner rather than later to get that baseline. Diet, a nutritious diet, grain leafy vegetables are very helpful, and that is the big dietary focus that they say will help with the the vision health in general and macular degeneration prevention.
Yeah. So all the things you're saying, it's all interconnected with our bodies. If you're doing all that, then you're probably doing yourself a benefit, right, throughout the whole body, not just youre eyes it's good for everything.
Absolutely. And we are really learning that the heart healthy, that we kind of put in that little box of cardiac, is a very holistic, it affects all parts of our physical and mental well-being. And so we really need to just focus on those daily habits that we all know, but we sometimes just haven't really put into practice as we should.
Yeah. Great tips. Great information. Again, as you saw in this video, no excuses, guys. Get that sheet printed out so you can get your eyes tested every week or so, every couple of weeks, and then don't forget to get the eyes dilated at your next eye doctor's appointment. I mean, sometimes we all like to skip that because we've got things to do in the day. No. Get it done, you know, just and then wear the sunglasses. I'm bad about that.
So these tips are so fantastic. And, you know, these are things that, you don't think about every single day that you could be doing damage, for the future, just something you could take care of so easily now. So, Suzanne, this is why we have you on. Thank you as always for your knowledge and all you do for the Arbor company.
Thank you. If you enjoy this video with Suzanne or your looking for more information, more videos just like this one, head on over to our website. It's www.SeniorLivingLive.com. We've got videos all about senior living. They're available on demand, and the best part, they are free.
Thank you so much for being a part of our conversation. Have a great day everybody.