This month has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to spreading consciousness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.
How many individuals are aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the primary reasons for vision loss in adults aged 65 and above? AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula in the eye which functions to allow clear central vision.
Age Related Macular Degeneration Signs
Early warning signs of AMD are often distorted vision or spots in the central vision. Because the vision loss usually occurs at a slow pace and painlessly, the effects may not be perceived until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is another reason that it is crucial to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, especially after the age of 65.
Risk Factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration
A number of risk factors have been determined including race (Caucasian), being over the age of 65, smoking and genetics. Any individual that is at increased risk should make certain to have an eye exam on a yearly basis. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your optometrist is also a good way to protect yourself.
Varieties of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is divided into two forms, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is found more frequently and may be a result of aging and thinning of the macular tissues or a build-up of pigment in the macula. The wet form, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which seep blood, killing the cells and resulting in blind spots. Typically the wet form results in more severe vision loss.
Can AMD Be Cured?
While there isn’t a cure for AMD, there are treatments that can delay the progression. Depending on whether one has dry or wet macular degeneration the course of treatment may involve laser surgery or medical injections or in some cases, nutritional supplements. In all cases, early diagnosis and treatment is essential. Speak to your eye doctor also about devices to help you cope with any loss of sight that you have already sustained. Vision loss that cannot be recovered by eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are many low vision aids that can be used today to make everyday activities easier.
Learn about the risks and signs of AMD before it's too late. Don't delay in scheduling your yearly eye exam, particularly if you are 65 or older.