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Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness

This month has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to creating consciousness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.

Are you aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the foremost reasons for loss of vision in those aged 65 and above? AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula in the eye which functions to allow clear central vision.

Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration

The first symptoms of age related macular degeneration are usually fuzzy or blind spots in the central vision. Because the symptoms typically come on slowly and painlessly, symptoms may not be observed until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is another reason that it is crucial to book a comprehensive eye exam, especially after the age of 65.

Risk Factors for AMD

If you are a Caucasian over 65 years of age, who smokes, is obese and has high blood pressure or has a family history of AMD, you are at higher risk of developing the condition. For those that are at greater risk, annual eye exams are crucial. Speaking to your eye doctor about proper nutrition which includes green leafy vegetables, vitamins such as C, E, A, and zinc, which are all antioxidants, and omega-3, is also advised.

Two Kinds of AMD

In general, AMD is typically categorized as either wet or dry. Dry AMD is diagnosed more frequently and may be a result of aging and macular tissue thinning or deposits of pigment in the macula. The wet form, also known as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results from the growth of new blood vessels under the retina which seep blood, which kills the retinal cells and causes blind spots in the central vision. Often wet AMD results in more serious vision loss.

Is There Treatment for Macular Degeneration?

Although there are treatments that can delay the progression of macular degeneration, the disease currently has no cure. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist is dependent on the type of macular degeneration and may involve dietary supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. In all instances, early diagnosis and treatment is critical. An optometrist will also be able to discuss and prescribe devices to help you adapt to any vision loss that has already occurred. Such loss of sight that is not able to be corrected by standard measures such as glasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are many low vision aids on the market today to help individuals to preserve independence in daily activities.

Learn about the risks and signs of AMD before it's too late. Schedule a visit with your eye doctor to learn more about macular degeneration and low vision.