February has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to raise awareness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.
How many of us are aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading reason for vision loss in adults over the age of 65? AMD is characterized by a deterioration of the macula in the eye which functions to allow clear central vision.
Age Related Macular Degeneration Signs
Early signs of age related macular degeneration include distorted vision and blind spots in the center of vision. Due to the fact that the vision loss usually occurs slowly and painlessly, signs may not be detected until the disease becomes more serious. This is another reason that every individual 65 and over should be sure to have a comprehensive eye exam on a regular basis.
Age Related Macular Degeneration Risk Factors
There are some risk factors of developing AMD including race (Caucasian), being over the age of 65, smoking and genetics. Anyone that is at increased risk should make certain to have an eye exam on a yearly basis. Speaking to your eye doctor about proper nutrition which includes green leafy vegetables, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, is also a good way to protect yourself.
Varieties of AMD
Macular degeneration is divided into two forms, dry and wet. Dry AMD is more common and may be a result of aging and thinning of the macular tissues or deposits of pigment in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels under the retina which leak blood and fluid, which kills the retinal cells and results in vision loss in the central vision. Often wet AMD leads to more severe vision loss.
While there is no cure for AMD, there are treatments that can delay the progression. Depending on the type of AMD treatment may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, nutritional supplements. For any treatment to succeed, early detection and treatment is essential. Speak to your eye doctor also about devices to help you deal with any visual difficulty that you have already sustained. Vision loss that is not able to be corrected by eyeglasses, contacts or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are a growing number of low vision devices available today to make everyday activities easier.
It's possible to save your vision by being knowledgeable about the risk factors and signs of AMD. Contact your eye doctor to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.