February is age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision month.
Are you aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the foremost causes of loss of vision in individuals over 65? AMD is characterized by a deterioration of the macula in the eye which is responsible for clear vision in the center of your field of view.
Early signs of age related macular degeneration are often distorted eyesight and spots in the center of vision. Because the vision loss typically occurs at a slow pace without any pain, symptoms may not be noticed until the disease has reached a later stage. This is another reason that every individual 65 and over should be sure to have a comprehensive eye exam at least annually.
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 family members that have had AMD, you are at higher risk of developing the condition. Anyone that is at increased risk should make sure to have a yearly eye exam. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your optometrist is also advised.
Types of AMD
Macular degeneration is divided into two categories, wet or dry. Dry macular degeneration is more commonplace and may be caused by aging and macular tissue thinning or a build-up of pigment in the macula. The wet form, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused when new blood vessels grow under the retina which leak blood and fluid, causing the cells to die and creating blind spots. Usually wet AMD results in more serious vision loss.
Can Macular Degeneration Be Cured?
While there isn’t a cure for AMD, certain treatments exist that can halt or minimize loss of vision. 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. In all cases, early diagnosis greatly improves the likelihood of successful treatment. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you cope with any visual difficulty that has already occurred. Vision loss that can't be recovered by eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are a growing number of low vision devices available today that can make everyday activities easier.
It's possible to protect your vision by being knowledgeable about the risk factors and signs of AMD. Don't delay in scheduling your yearly eye exam, especially if you are over 65.