Be Knowledgeable About Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
This month has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to spreading awareness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.
Did you know that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of loss of vision in individuals over 65? AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula of the retina which functions to allow clear vision in the center of your field of view.
What are the Indications of AMD?
Early symptoms of AMD are usually blurriness or blind spots in the central vision. Since the symptoms typically come on slowly without any pain, symptoms are often not detected until the disease has reached a later stage. This is another reason that it is crucial to have a comprehensive eye exam, especially after the age of 65.
What are the Risk Factors for AMD?
If you are of Caucasian decent, over 65 years of age, who smokes, consumes an unhealthy diet or has family members that have had AMD, you are at greater risk of developing the disease. If you have a number of these risk factors, annual eye exams are a must. Speaking to your optometrist about proper nutrition including green leafy vegetables, vitamins such as C, E, Beta-carotene (Vitamin A), and zinc, which are all antioxidants, and omega-3, can also help reduce your chances of vision loss.
Types of AMD
AMD is divided into two forms, dry and wet. The dry version is more commonplace and is theorized to be a result of advanced age and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment build-up in the macula. Wet macular degeneration, also known as neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused when new blood vessels grow under the retina which leak blood, which destroys the retinal cells and results in vision loss in the central vision. Typically wet AMD is the more serious of the two.
Can AMD Be Cured?
While there are treatments that can reduce the loss of sight that results from AMD, the disease currently has no cure. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist is dependent on the type of macular degeneration and may involve vitamin supplements, laser surgery or certain medications that stop abnormal blood vessel growth. For any treatment to succeed, early diagnosis and treatment is essential. Your optometrist will also be able to discuss and prescribe devices to help you adapt to any visual difficulty that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that is not able to be improved by the usual measures such as glasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are many low vision aids that can be used today to help individuals to preserve autonomy in daily activities.
Learn about the risk factors and signs of AMD before it's too late. Don't delay in scheduling an annual eye exam, especially if you are over the age of 65.