The life-altering condition your doctor may be missing

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) robs some 14 million Americans of their vision. But with early detection and an integrative approach to treatment — like the one I outlined in the May issue of Logical Health Alternatives — it can be stopped in its tracks.

Which is why I was so alarmed to read a recent study that found that AMD is grossly underdiagnosed. That means that countless people are missing out on the vision-preserving treatment they deserve.

According to the study, which was published by JAMA Ophthalmology — one-quarter of eyes deemed “normal” in an eye exam actually had AMD. That rate remained the same whether the exam had been performed by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

Of the 1,288 supposedly healthy eyes the researchers examined, only 75 percent were, in fact, free of AMD. The other 320 had AMD that slipped under the radar. Of those, 78 percent had small deposits under the retina, 78 percent had medium-sized deposits, and 30 percent had large deposits. (Some eyes had deposits of more than one size, which explains the overlapping percentages.)

The sad thing is that the researchers pointed out that the people with large deposits — in other words, those with the more advanced stage of degeneration — could have been treated with supplements if the condition had been caught earlier.

So what can you do as a patient to make sure you’re getting an accurate eye exam? First, go to a very experienced eye doctor with the latest technology. And if you’re at higher risk for AMD — if you’re over 50, if you smoke, if you’re inactive or obese, eat a poor diet, or have high blood pressure —get examined more frequently.

And it should go without saying that if any of those criteria applies to you, you could be protecting your eyes (and your health in general) by making smart lifestyle changes today. Check out the 3-step plan I outlined in the May issue. And start taking steps to preserve your vision into your 70s, 80s, and beyond.