This month has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to raise awareness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.
Are you aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the foremost causes of vision loss in adults over age 65? AMD is a condition that causes a breakdown of the macula in the eye which functions to allow sharp vision in the center of your field of view.
What are the Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration?
Early warning signs of age related macular degeneration include blurriness or blind spots in the central vision. Since the loss of vision typically occurs at a slow pace and painlessly, signs are often not detected until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is why every individual over 65 years of age should make sure to schedule a routine eye examination at least annually.
Risk Factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration
A number of risk factors have been determined including being Caucasian, being over the age of 65, smoking and family history. For those that have a number of these risk factors, yearly eye examinations are essential. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your optometrist is also a good way to protect yourself.
Wet and Dry AMD
In general, macular degeneration is usually categorized as either dry or wet. The dry version is found more frequently and is theorized to be caused by advanced age and thinning of the macular tissues or deposits of pigment in the macula. Wet macular degeneration, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels under the retina which leak blood and fluid, which kills the retinal cells and results in vision loss in the central vision. Usually wet macular degeneration leads to more serious vision loss.
Can Macular Degeneration Be Cured?
While there are treatments that can delay the progression of AMD, the disease currently has no cure. Depending on whether one has dry or wet AMD the treatment may involve dietary supplements, laser surgery or certain medications that stop abnormal blood vessel growth. In either case, early detection and treatment is essential. Speak to your eye doctor also about devices to help you adapt to any visual difficulty that has already occurred. Vision loss that is not able to be recovered by the usual measures such as eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is called low vision. There are quite a few low vision aids available today that can make everyday activities easier.
Learn about the risks and symptoms of macular degeneration before it's too late. Contact your optometrist to learn more about macular degeneration and low vision.