This month has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to raise awareness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of loss of vision in adults over 65. AMD is a condition that affects the macula of the retina which is responsible for clear vision in the center of your field of view.
Symptoms of AMD
The first warning signs of age related macular degeneration are often fuzzy or dark spots in the central vision. Since the symptoms typically come on gradually and painlessly, signs may not be perceived until the disease has progressed. This is another reason that it is very important to book a routine eye examination, particularly once you turn 65.
Age Related Macular Degeneration Risk Factors
If you are a Caucasian over 65 years of age, a smoker who consumes a diet low in nutrients or has family members that have had AMD, you are at greater risk of developing the condition. If you have a number of these risk factors, yearly eye exams are a must. Speaking to your eye doctor about proper nutrition which includes antioxidants and omega-3 can also help lower your chances of developing AMD.
Wet vs. Dry AMD
Macular degeneration is divided into two forms, dry and wet. The dry form is more commonplace and may be a result of aging and macular tissue thinning or pigment build-up in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which leak blood, which destroys the retinal cells and results in vision loss in the central vision. Often wet macular degeneration is the more serious of the two.
Treatment for Macular Degeneration
While there is no cure for AMD, certain treatments exist that can reduce loss of vision. Depending on whether one has dry or wet AMD the course of treatment may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, nutritional supplements. In all cases, early diagnosis and treatment is essential. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you deal with any vision loss that has already occurred. Such loss of sight that is not able to be corrected by the usual measures such as glasses, contacts or surgery is called low vision. There are a number of low vision aids on the market today to make everyday activities easier.
It's possible to save your eyesight by being knowledgeable about the risk factors and signs of AMD. Visit your eye doctor to learn more about AMD and low vision.