This month is age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision recognition month.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a foremost cause of vision loss in adults over age 65. AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula in the eye which functions to allow sharp vision in the center of your field of view.
Warning Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration
Early signs of age related macular degeneration are usually fuzzy or spots in the central vision. Because the symptoms typically come on slowly and painlessly, signs are sometimes not noticed until the disease has progressed. This is why every individual over 65 years of age should be sure to have a routine eye examination at least annually.
Risk Factors for AMD
A number of risk factors have been identified including being Caucasian, being over the age of 65, being a smoker, obesity, high blood pressure and genetics. Any individual that possesses these risk factors should make certain to schedule a yearly eye exam. Consulting with your eye doctor about proper nutrition which includes antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, is also a good way to protect yourself.
Dry Macular Degeneration vs. Wet Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is divided into two forms, wet or dry. Dry macular degeneration is diagnosed more often and may be caused by advanced age 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 under the retina which seep blood and fluid, causing the cells to die and creating blind spots. Usually wet macular degeneration is the more serious of the two.
Macular Degeneration Treatment
While there are treatments that can delay the progression of macular degeneration, there is no cure at this time. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist depends on the type of AMD and may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, vitamin supplements. For any treatment to succeed, early detection greatly improves the likelihood of successful treatment. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you cope with any vision loss that has already occurred. Vision loss that can't be corrected by glasses, contacts or surgery is called low vision. There are quite a few low vision devices on the market today to help individuals to retain self-sufficiency in routine activities.
It's possible to protect your eyesight by being knowledgeable about the risk factors and signs of AMD. Visit your eye doctor to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.