February has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to raise awareness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.
Are you aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading reason for vision loss in adults over the age of 65? AMD is characterized by a deterioration of the macula in the eye which is responsible for sharp central vision.
The first warning signs of AMD include blurriness or blind spots in the central vision. Because the symptoms typically come on slowly without any pain, symptoms are sometimes not observed until the disease has progressed. For this reason every individual over 65 years of age should make sure to have a comprehensive eye examination on a regular basis.
Risk Factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration
A number of risk factors have been determined including being Caucasian, being over the age of 65, being a cigarette smoker, obesity, high blood pressure and family history. Any individual that possesses the above risk factors should be sure to schedule a yearly eye exam. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your eye doctor is also advised.
Dry Macular Degeneration vs. Wet Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is divided into two categories, dry and wet. The dry version is more common and may be caused by advanced age and macular tissue thinning or pigment deposits in the macula. Wet macular degeneration, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, results when new blood vessels grow under the retina which leak blood, killing the cells and resulting in blind spots. Typically the wet form is the more serious of the two.
Macular Degeneration Treatment
While there are treatments that can reduce the vision loss that results from macular degeneration, the disease currently has no cure. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist is dependent on the type of AMD and may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, vitamin supplements. For any treatment to succeed, early diagnosis and treatment is critical. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you adapt to any loss of sight that you have already sustained. Vision loss that can't be corrected by the usual measures such as glasses, contact lenses or surgery is known as low vision. There are quite a few low vision devices available today that can help individuals to sustain self-sufficiency in routine activities.
Learn about the risk factors and symptoms of macular degeneration before it's too late. Visit your eye doctor to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.