This month has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to creating awareness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.
How many of us are aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading reasons for vision loss in those aged 65 and over? AMD is a condition that affects the macula in the eye which is the part of the eye that is responsible for sharp vision in the center of your field of view.
Symptoms of AMD
Early warning signs of age related macular degeneration are usually distorted eyesight and spots in the center of vision. Because the symptoms typically come on at a slow pace without any pain, the effects are sometimes not observed until more severe vision loss is apparent. For this reason every individual 65 and over should make sure to schedule a routine eye examination on a regular basis.
Risk Factors for AMD
There are a few risk factors of developing AMD including Caucasian race, being over the age of 65, being a cigarette smoker, obesity, high blood pressure and genetics. Anyone that possesses these risk factors should be certain to schedule an eye exam on a yearly basis. Learning about proper nutrition with your optometrist is also a good way to protect yourself.
Dry Macular Degeneration and Wet Macular Degeneration
In general, macular degeneration is typically diagnosed as either wet or dry. The dry version is more common and may be a result of aging and macular tissue thinning or pigment deposits in the macula. The wet form, also known as neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused when new blood vessels grow under the retina which leak blood, killing the cells and resulting in blind spots. Often wet macular degeneration leads to more severe vision loss.
While there are treatments that can delay the progression of AMD, there is currently no cure for the disease. Depending on the type of AMD the course of treatment may involve vitamin supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. For any treatment to succeed, early detection and treatment is critical. Your optometrist will also be able to suggest devices to help you adapt to any loss of sight that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that cannot be corrected by glasses, contacts or surgery is called low vision. There are a growing number of low vision aids available today to make everyday activities easier.
Learn about the risks and signs of AMD before it's too late. Don't delay in scheduling an annual eye exam, particularly if you are 65 or older.