Risk Factors and Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
We are currently in the midst of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision awareness month.
Are you aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading culprit for loss of vision in adults over age 65? AMD is a condition that affects the macula of the retina which functions to allow sharp vision in the center of your field of view.
Indications of AMD
Early signs of AMD are often blurriness or blind spots in the central vision. Due to the fact that the vision loss usually occurs gradually and painlessly, symptoms are sometimes not noticed until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is why every individual 65 and over should be sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam regularly.
Risk Factors for AMD
There are certain factors that put you at greater risk of developing AMD including being Caucasian, age (over 65), being a smoker, eating an unhealthy diet and family history. Any individual that possesses the above risk factors should be sure to have an annual eye exam. Speaking to your optometrist about proper nutrition including green leafy vegetables, antioxidants and omega-3 is also a good way to protect yourself.
Dry Macular Degeneration vs. Wet Macular Degeneration
AMD is divided into two categories, wet or dry. The dry version is diagnosed more frequently and may be caused by advanced age and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment deposits in the macula. The wet form, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which seep blood, causing the cells to die and creating blind spots. Often the wet form is the more serious of the two.
Macular Degeneration Treatment
Although there isn’t a cure for AMD, certain treatments exist that can delay the progression. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist is dependent on the type of macular degeneration and may involve vitamin supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. In all cases, early detection greatly improves the chances of successful treatment. Your eye doctor will also be able to discuss and prescribe devices to help you cope with any loss of sight that has already occurred. Such loss of sight that cannot be improved by standard measures such as eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is called low vision. There are many low vision devices on the market today that can greatly assist in preserving autonomy in routine activities.
It's possible to protect your vision by being aware of the risks and symptoms of macular degeneration. Visit your eye doctor to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.