We are currently in the midst of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision recognition month.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the primary causes of loss of vision in adults over the age of 65. AMD is a condition that causes a breakdown of the macula in the eye which is responsible for clear vision in the center of your field of view.
Could it be Age Related Macular Degeneration?
Early warning signs of age related macular degeneration are often fuzzy or blind spots in the central vision. Since the symptoms typically come on gradually and painlessly, the effects are often not detected until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is another reason that every individual over 65 years of age should be sure to have a routine eye exam on a regular basis.
AMD Risk Factors
If you are a Caucasian over the age of 65, who smokes, consumes a diet low in nutrients or has family members that have had AMD, your chances of getting AMD are increased. For those that are at greater risk, yearly eye exams are essential. Discussing proper nutrition with your eye doctor is also a good way to protect yourself.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is divided into two forms, wet or dry. Dry AMD is more common and may be a result of aging and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment build-up in the macula. Wet macular degeneration, also known as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina which seep blood and fluid, causing the cells to die and creating blind spots. Usually the wet form results in more serious vision loss.
Treatment for Macular Degeneration
While there are treatments that can delay the progression of macular degeneration, the disease currently has no cure. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist depends on the type of AMD and may involve dietary supplements, laser surgery or certain medications that stop abnormal blood vessel growth. For any treatment to succeed, early diagnosis greatly improves the chances of successful treatment. Speak to your eye doctor also about devices to help you deal with any visual difficulty that has already occurred. Vision loss that is not able to be corrected by the usual measures such as eyeglasses, contacts or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are a growing number of low vision aids available today that can greatly assist in maintaining independence in routine activities.
It's possible to save your eyesight by being aware of the risks and signs of macular degeneration. Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.