February 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 reasons for vision loss in those aged 65 and above? AMD is a condition that causes a breakdown of the macula in the eye which is the part of the eye that is responsible for clear vision in the center of your field of view.
What are the Warning Signs of AMD?
The first signs of AMD are often unclear eyesight and spots in the center of vision. Since the symptoms typically come on at a slow pace and painlessly, the effects are often not observed until more severe vision loss is apparent. For this reason every individual 65 and over should be sure to have a routine eye exam at least annually.
Risk Factors for AMD
There are a few risk factors of developing AMD including Caucasian race, age (over 65), smoking and genetics. If you have a number of these risk factors, yearly eye exams are crucial. Discussing proper nutrition with your optometrist is also a good way to protect yourself.
Dry AMD vs. Wet AMD
Macular degeneration is divided into two forms, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is more common and is thought to be a result of advanced age and macular tissue thinning or a build-up of pigment in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina which leak blood, causing the cells to die and creating blind spots. Often wet macular degeneration is the more serious of the two.
Macular Degeneration Treatment
Although there are treatments that can reduce the loss of sight that results from AMD, the disease currently has no cure. Depending on the type of AMD treatment may involve dietary supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. In all instances, early diagnosis and treatment is critical. Your optometrist may also be able to suggest devices to help you cope with any vision loss that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that can't be corrected by standard measures such as eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is called low vision. There are quite a few low vision aids on the market today to greatly assist in retaining self-sufficiency in daily activities.
You can protect your eyesight by being knowledgeable about the risk factors and signs of AMD. Schedule an appointment with your optometrist to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.