We are currently in the midst of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision awareness month.
How many individuals are aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the foremost causes of loss of vision in adults aged 65 and above? AMD is a condition that causes a breakdown of the macula of the retina which functions to allow clear vision in the center of your field of view.
Early signs of AMD are often distorted vision or blind spots in the central vision. Due to the fact that the loss of vision usually occurs gradually and painlessly, signs are often not observed until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is why it is very important to book a comprehensive eye examination, particularly after the age of 65.
Risk Factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration
There are certain risk factors of developing AMD including Caucasian race, age (over 65), smoking and family history. Anyone that is at increased risk should be certain to schedule an annual eye exam. Discussing proper nutritional changes with your eye doctor can also help reduce your risk of developing AMD.
Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration
Generally, AMD is usually diagnosed as either wet or dry. The dry version is more commonplace and may be a result of advanced age and macular tissue thinning or pigment deposits in the macula. Wet AMD, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results from the growth of new blood vessels under the retina which seep blood and fluid, killing the cells and resulting in blind spots. Often the wet form is the more serious of the two.
Treatment for AMD
While there are treatments that can reduce the vision loss that results from AMD, the disease currently has no cure. Depending on the type of AMD the course of treatment may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, vitamin supplements. In all cases, early detection and treatment is essential. Speak to your eye doctor also about devices to help you cope with any loss of sight that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that can't be corrected by glasses, contacts or surgery is known as low vision. There are a growing number of low vision aids that can be used today that can greatly assist in retaining independence in daily activities.
Learn about the risk factors and signs of AMD before it's too late. Contact your optometrist to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.