This month has been designated by Prevent Blindness America to raise awareness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.
Did you know that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading reason for loss of vision in those aged 65 and over? AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula in the eye which is responsible for clear vision in the center of your field of view.
The first signs of AMD are often blurriness or blind spots in the central vision. Because the symptoms typically come on at a slow pace and painlessly, signs are often not noticed until the disease has reached a later stage. For this reason every individual 65 and over should be sure to schedule a routine eye examination regularly.
Risk Factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration
A number of risk factors have been determined including Caucasian race, aged over 65, being a cigarette smoker, eating an unhealthy diet and family history. Anyone that possesses these risk factors should make sure to schedule a yearly eye exam. Speaking to your eye doctor about proper nutrition which includes vitamins such as C, E, Beta-carotene (Vitamin A), and zinc, which are all antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, is also a good way to protect yourself.
Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration
AMD is divided into two categories, wet or dry. Dry macular degeneration is more commonplace and may be caused by advanced age and macular tissue thinning or a build-up of pigment in the macula. The wet form, also known 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 blind spots in the central vision. Typically wet AMD is the more serious of the two.
Treatment for AMD
Although there are treatments that can delay the progression of macular degeneration, there is no cure at this time. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist depends on the type of AMD and may involve nutritional supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. For any treatment to succeed, early diagnosis greatly improves the likelihood of successful treatment. Speak to your eye doctor also about devices to help you deal with any vision loss that you have already sustained. Vision loss that is not able to be improved by standard measures such as eyeglasses, contacts or surgery is called low vision. There are quite a few low vision devices available today that can help individuals to retain self-sufficiency in daily activities.
It's possible to save your vision by being knowledgeable about the risk factors and symptoms of AMD. Don't delay in scheduling an annual eye exam, especially if you are 65 or older.