We are currently in the middle of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision month.
Did you know that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the primary reasons for loss of vision in individuals aged 65 and over? AMD is a condition that affects the macula of the retina which is responsible for clear central vision.
Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration
The first warning signs of age related macular degeneration include distorted vision or spots in the central vision. Because the symptoms typically come on gradually without any pain, the effects may not be perceived until more severe vision loss is apparent. For this reason it is very important to have a comprehensive eye examination, especially after the age of 65.
AMD Risk Factors
If you are of Caucasian decent, over 65 years of age, who smokes, is obese and has high blood pressure or has a family history of AMD, you are at higher risk of developing the condition. If you have a number of these risk factors, yearly eye examinations are essential. Discussing proper nutritional changes with your optometrist is also advised.
Types of AMD
In general, macular degeneration is usually categorized as either wet or dry. The dry version is more common and may be caused by advanced age and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment deposits in the macula. Wet AMD, also known as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results when new blood vessels grow under the retina which leak blood and fluid, which kills the retinal cells and results in blind spots in the central vision. Typically the wet form causes more severe vision loss.
Can Macular Degeneration Be Cured?
While there isn’t a cure for macular degeneration, there are treatments that can slow or minimize loss of vision. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist is dependent on the type of macular degeneration and may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, vitamin supplements. For any treatment to succeed, early detection greatly improves the chances of successful treatment. Speak to your eye doctor also about devices to help you deal with any loss of sight that you have already sustained. Vision loss that can't be improved by eyeglasses, contacts or surgery is called low vision. There are a number of low vision devices on the market today that can make everyday activities easier.
You can protect your eyesight by being knowledgeable about the risk factors and symptoms of AMD. Contact your optometrist to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.