February 2020 Heart Health and Macular Degeneration Awareness Month

Wow! How is it already February? 2020 is moving quickly along. This month, we are highlighting both Heart Health Awareness and Macular Degeneration Awareness.

It has been said the eyes are the window to your soul…and to the rest of your body. How is this possible?

As part of your yearly eye exam, the dilated portion – yes, no one really likes to be dilated – provides your optometrist or ophthalmologist the ability to examine the blood vessels in the back of your eyes. Early signs of undetected high blood pressure can be seen due to changes in the vessels. Signs of high cholesterol can be detected also during a dilated eye exam.  Undetected and/or poorly controlled cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can be contributing risk factors for developing macular degeneration (AMD).

Yes, the eyes and the heart are connected! 

AMD is the leading cause of blindness in older adults. AMD is predominantly age-related but can occur in people under 60. AMD affects the center of the retina – the macula. The macula is the part of the retina that allows us to see read, drive and see fine vision details (such as knitting, sewing, etc). AMD causes the cells in the macula to deteriorate causing vision to become blurry leading to eventual loss of central vision.

Okay…but how does this also relate to heart health…

AMD risk factors can include being over the age of 60, a family history of AMD, cigarette smoking, obesity and high blood pressure and heart disease. High blood pressure directly affects the amount of oxygen delivered to the various parts of your body including your eyes. Heart disease, such as stroke, angina and/or a heart attack, also can increase a person’s risk of developing AMD 1.5 times compared to someone who has not experienced one of these conditions.

The takeaway message – in addition to your yearly physical, have a yearly dilated eye exam. If you have noticed changes in your vision, call your eye doctor to schedule an exam.

Call 919-282-1100 to schedule an exam with Dr. Smolenyak or Dr. Langel.

Life is beautiful, see it clearly!