We are currently in the middle of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision awareness month.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a foremost cause of loss of vision in individuals over 65. AMD is characterized by a deterioration of the macula in the eye which functions to allow sharp central vision.
What are the Indications of Age Related Macular Degeneration?
The first warning signs of AMD include blurred eyesight and blind spots in the center of vision. Since the symptoms typically come on slowly and painlessly, symptoms may not be observed until more severe vision loss is apparent. For this reason every individual over 65 years of age should be sure to have a routine eye exam at least annually.
What are the Risk Factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration?
There are a few risk factors of developing AMD including being Caucasian, being over the age of 65, being a cigarette smoker, obesity, high blood pressure and family history. For those that are categorized as being at greater risk, yearly eye examinations are essential. Discussing proper nutritional changes with your optometrist is also advised.
Varieties of AMD
AMD is divided into two categories, wet or dry. Dry AMD is found more often and is thought to be a result of advanced age and macular tissue thinning or pigment deposits in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which leak blood and fluid, causing the cells to die and creating blind spots. Usually the wet form leads to more serious vision loss.
Is There Treatment for AMD?
Although there isn’t a cure for AMD, there are treatments that can delay the progression. Depending on whether one has dry or wet macular degeneration the course of treatment may involve vitamin supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. In all cases, early diagnosis greatly enhances the chances of successful treatment. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you deal with any vision loss that has already occurred. Such loss of sight that cannot be improved by the usual measures such as eyeglasses, contacts or surgery is known as low vision. There are a growing number of low vision devices on the market today to make everyday activities easier.
It's possible to protect your eyesight by being aware of the risks and symptoms of macular degeneration. Don't delay in scheduling your yearly eye exam, particularly if you are over 65.