February has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to raise awareness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.
How many individuals are aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading reason for loss of vision in adults aged 65 and above? AMD is characterized by a deterioration of the macula of the retina which functions to allow clear vision in the center of your field of view.
Age Related Macular Degeneration Warning Signs
Early signs of AMD are usually unclear eyesight and blind spots in the center of vision. Due to the fact that the symptoms typically come on at a slow pace without any pain, signs may not be perceived until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is another reason that it is very important to schedule a routine eye examination, particularly after the age of 65.
What are the Risk Factors for AMD?
There are a number of risk factors of developing AMD including Caucasian race, age (over 65), being a smoker, eating a diet lacking in nutrients and family history. Any individual that possesses these risk factors should make sure to schedule an eye exam on a yearly basis. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your optometrist is also advised.
Two Kinds of AMD
In general, macular degeneration is usually categorized as either wet or dry. The dry form is found more often and is theorized to be a result of aging and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment deposits in the macula. The wet form, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused when new blood vessels grow under the retina which leak blood and fluid, destroying the cells and creating blind spots. Often wet macular degeneration is the more serious of the two.
Although there are treatments that can slow the vision loss that results from macular degeneration, the disease currently has no cure. Depending on the type of AMD treatment may involve dietary supplements, laser surgery or certain medications that stop abnormal blood vessel growth. For any treatment to succeed, early detection and treatment is critical. An eye doctor will also be able to discuss and prescribe devices to help you adapt to any loss of sight that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that cannot be improved by the usual measures such as eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are a number of low vision devices on the market today to greatly assist in maintaining independence in daily activities.
It's possible to protect your vision by being aware of the risk factors and symptoms of macular degeneration. Schedule a visit with your eye doctor to learn more about AMD and low vision.