This month has been designated by Prevent Blindness America to spreading knowledge about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the foremost reasons behind loss of vision in those aged 65 and over. AMD is characterized by a deterioration of the macula in the eye which is the part of the eye that is responsible for sharp central vision.
Early symptoms of age related macular degeneration include blurred eyesight and dark spots in the center of vision. Because the vision loss usually occurs gradually without any pain, the effects are often not perceived until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is why every individual over 65 years of age should be sure to have a routine eye exam on a regular basis.
AMD Risk Factors
A number of risk factors have been determined including being Caucasian, age (over 65), being a cigarette smoker, obesity, high blood pressure and genetics. For those that have a number of these risk factors, annual eye exams are a must. Discussing proper nutritional changes with your eye doctor is also a good way to protect yourself.
Dry AMD and Wet AMD
Generally, macular degeneration is usually categorized as either dry or wet. Dry macular degeneration is diagnosed more frequently and may be caused by advanced age and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment build-up in the macula. Wet macular degeneration, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which seep blood and fluid, which destroys the retinal cells and results in vision loss in the central vision. Usually the wet form is the more serious of the two.
Although there are treatments that can reduce the loss of sight that results from AMD, the disease currently has no cure. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist depends on the type of macular degeneration and may involve laser surgery or medical injections or in some cases, vitamin supplements. For any treatment to succeed, early detection greatly enhances the chances of successful treatment. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you cope with any vision loss that has already occurred. Such loss of sight that cannot be corrected by the usual measures such as glasses, contacts or surgery is called low vision. There are a number of low vision aids that can be used today that can make everyday activities easier.
Learn about the risk factors and symptoms of AMD before it's too late. Visit your optometrist to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.