We are currently in the middle of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision awareness month.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a primary cause of vision loss in individuals over age 65. AMD is characterized by a degeneration 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.
Early signs of AMD are often blurriness or dark spots in the central vision. Because the symptoms typically come on gradually and painlessly, symptoms are often not perceived until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is why it is crucial to have a routine eye exam, particularly after the age of 65.
AMD Risk Factors
A number of risk factors have been identified including race (Caucasian), age (over 65), being a smoker, eating an unhealthy diet and family history. Anyone that is at increased risk should make sure to have a yearly eye exam. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your eye doctor is also a good way to protect yourself.
Wet and Dry Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is divided into two forms, dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is diagnosed more frequently and may be caused by aging and thinning of the macular tissues or deposits of pigment in the macula. The wet form, also known as neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused when new blood vessels grow under the retina which leak blood and fluid, which destroys the retinal cells and results in blind spots in the central vision. Often wet macular degeneration results in more severe vision loss.
Is There Treatment for Macular Degeneration?
Although there is no cure for AMD, there are treatments that can delay the progression. Depending on the type of AMD the course of treatment may involve dietary supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. In all instances, early diagnosis and treatment is essential. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you deal with any vision loss that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that is not able to be improved by glasses, contacts or surgical procedures is called low vision. There are quite a few low vision devices that can be used today to help individuals to maintain independence in routine activities.
Learn about the risk factors and symptoms of AMD before it's too late. Don't delay in scheduling your yearly eye exam, particularly if you are 65 or older.