According to recent studies, prolonged exposure to UV rays (from the sun) has increased the number of cases of cataract and macular degeneration, particularly in countries like Cyprus. Although macular degeneration may be hereditary, there are steps that can be taken to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. Taking Lucentis tablets (prescription only, i.e. Macushield) can help prevent deterioration of vision as it supplies special nutrients to the macula. This drug is also used to treat diabetic retinopathy as well as swelling in the retina caused by diabetes or by a blockage in the blood vessels.
You can also wear special polarised sunglasses that block out UV rays. In cases where prescription glasses are needed, polarised lenses are available in both single vision and varifocals. Alternatively, transition lenses which go dark in the sun could also be a solution. These lenses are not only coated on the surface but have crystals throughout the lens which react to UV exposure to protect your eyes.
It is a common misconception that simple sunglasses can provide the same protection, on the contrary, they can actually cause more damage as they shade the eyes, diluting the pupil and allowing more UV rays to enter due to a lack of protective coating. Summers in Cyprus have an average UV index of 10 on a scale of 1 to 11+, which is considered as very high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure.
Once the damage has been done at the macula, very little can be done to restore sight, however, further deterioration can be prevented by the use of injections. Digital magnifiers are also available which help with very small print and are far superior to simple magnifying glasses.
Eye examinations are essential, not only for investigating eye health, but also for body health.