This month has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to increasing awareness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the primary reasons behind vision loss in those over the age of 65. AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula in the eye which functions to allow sharp central vision.
The first symptoms of age related macular degeneration include blurriness or dark spots in the central vision. Due to the fact that the symptoms typically come on slowly without any pain, symptoms are often not perceived until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is another reason that every individual 65 and over should be sure to schedule a comprehensive eye examination at least annually.
AMD Risk Factors
If you are of Caucasian decent, over the age of 65, who smokes, consumes an unhealthy diet or has family members that have had AMD, you are at higher risk of developing the condition. If you are at greater risk, annual eye examinations are a must. Speaking to your optometrist about proper nutrition including antioxidants and omega-3 can also help reduce your chances of developing AMD.
Wet vs. Dry AMD
In general, macular degeneration is usually categorized as either dry or wet. Dry AMD is found more often and is thought to be caused by advanced age and macular tissue thinning or pigment deposits in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused when new blood vessels grow under the retina which leak blood, causing the cells to die and resulting in blind spots. Often wet macular degeneration is the more serious of the two.
Macular Degeneration Treatment
Although there are treatments that can delay the progression of AMD, there is currently no cure for the disease. Depending on whether one has dry or wet macular degeneration the course of treatment may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, nutritional supplements. For any treatment to succeed, early detection greatly enhances the likelihood of successful treatment. Your eye doctor may also be able to suggest devices to help you cope with any visual difficulty that has already occurred. Vision loss that is not able to be recovered by eyeglasses, contacts or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are a number of low vision devices available today that can help individuals to retain self-sufficiency in routine activities.
You can protect your eyesight by being aware of the risk factors and signs of AMD. Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to find out more about AMD and low vision.