Be Knowledgeable About Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
We are currently in the midst of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision awareness month.
Did you know that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading reasons for loss of vision in those over the age of 65? AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula in the eye which is responsible for clear central vision.
Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration
The first signs of AMD are often blurriness or dark spots in the central vision. Because the symptoms typically come on gradually and painlessly, signs may not be noticed until the disease becomes more serious. This is another reason that it is crucial to book a routine eye examination, particularly once you turn 65.
AMD Risk Factors
There are certain factors that put you at greater risk of developing AMD including race (Caucasian), being over the age of 65, being a smoker, obesity, high blood pressure and genetics. Anyone that is at increased risk should make certain to schedule an eye exam on a yearly basis. Discussing proper nutritional changes with your optometrist is also a good way to protect yourself.
Wet and Dry AMD
Macular degeneration is divided into two categories, dry and wet. The dry form is found more often and may be a result of advanced age and macular tissue thinning or pigment deposits in the macula. The wet form, also known as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina which seep blood, which kills the retinal cells and results in vision loss in the central vision. Typically wet macular degeneration results in more serious vision loss.
Can Macular Degeneration Be Cured?
Although there are treatments that can reduce the vision loss that results from AMD, the disease currently has no cure. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist is dependent on the type of macular degeneration and may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, vitamin supplements. For any treatment to succeed, early diagnosis greatly enhances the chances of successful treatment. An eye doctor may also be able to recommend devices to help you cope with any loss of sight that has already occurred. Such loss of sight that can't be corrected by glasses, contacts or surgery is known as low vision. There are many low vision devices available today to greatly assist in sustaining self-sufficiency in daily activities.
You can save your eyesight by being aware of the risk factors and signs of macular degeneration. Don't delay in scheduling your yearly eye exam, particularly if you are 65 or older.