This month is age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision awareness month.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the primary causes of loss of vision in individuals aged 65 and over. AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula of the retina which functions to allow sharp central vision.
Age Related Macular Degeneration Indications
Early signs of age related macular degeneration are usually fuzzy or blind spots in the central vision. Due to the fact that the loss of vision typically occurs gradually and painlessly, the effects are sometimes not perceived until the disease becomes more serious. This is another reason that every individual over 65 years of age should make sure to have a comprehensive eye examination on a regular basis.
AMD Risk Factors
If you are of Caucasian decent, over 65 years of age, who smokes, eats a diet low in nutrients or has family members that have had AMD, your chances of developing AMD are greater. For those that are at greater risk, yearly eye examinations are essential. Discussing proper nutritional changes with your eye doctor can also help reduce your chances of vision loss.
Dry Macular Degeneration vs. Wet Macular Degeneration
AMD is divided into two categories, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is more commonplace and may be caused by advanced age and macular tissue thinning or pigment build-up in the macula. The wet form, also known as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which seep blood, which destroys the retinal cells and results in vision loss in the central vision. Often the wet form results in more serious vision loss.
Although there are treatments that can slow the vision loss that results from macular degeneration, the disease currently has no cure. Depending on whether one has wet or dry macular degeneration the course of treatment may involve laser surgery or medical injections or in some cases, nutritional supplements. In all cases, early diagnosis greatly improves the likelihood of successful treatment. An optometrist will also be able to suggest devices to help you cope with any vision loss that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that is not able to be recovered by standard measures such as glasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is called low vision. There are a growing number of low vision devices on the market today that can make everyday activities easier.
You can save your eyesight by being aware of the risk factors and signs of AMD. Don't delay in scheduling your yearly eye exam, especially if you are 65 or older.