We are currently in the midst of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision month.
Are you aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the foremost reasons for loss of vision in individuals over 65? AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula in the eye which is responsible for sharp central vision.
Symptoms of AMD
Early symptoms of age related macular degeneration are usually blurred eyesight and blind spots in the center of vision. Since the symptoms typically come on at a slow pace and painlessly, signs may not be observed until the disease has reached a later stage. This is why every individual 65 and over should make sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam regularly.
Risk Factors for AMD
A number of risk factors have been determined including being Caucasian, being over the age of 65, being a cigarette smoker, obesity, high blood pressure and family history. For those that are categorized as being at greater risk, yearly eye exams are crucial. Discussing proper nutritional changes with your eye doctor can also help reduce your chances of vision loss.
Dry Macular Degeneration vs. Wet Macular Degeneration
While the causes are not known for certain, AMD is typically diagnosed as either wet or dry. Dry macular degeneration is more commonplace and is theorized to be caused by advanced age and thinning of the macular tissues 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 under the retina which leak blood and fluid, causing the cells to die and resulting in blind spots. Often wet macular degeneration causes more serious vision loss.
Is There Treatment for AMD?
While there are treatments that can reduce the vision loss that results from macular degeneration, the disease currently has no cure. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist depends on the type of AMD and may involve vitamin supplements, laser surgery or certain medications that stop abnormal blood vessel growth. For any treatment to succeed, early diagnosis greatly enhances the chances of successful treatment. An eye doctor will also be able to suggest devices to help you deal with any vision loss that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are a growing number of low vision devices on the market today to greatly assist in sustaining autonomy in daily activities.
It's possible to protect your eyesight by being knowledgeable about the risk factors and signs of AMD. Visit your eye doctor to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.