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What is Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

This month has been designated by Prevent Blindness America to increasing consciousness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.

Did you know that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the foremost reasons for loss of vision in individuals aged 65 and over? AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula of the retina which is responsible for clear central vision.

AMD Signs

Early warning signs of AMD are often distorted vision or spots in the central vision. Because the symptoms typically come on at a slow pace and painlessly, signs are sometimes not perceived until the disease becomes more serious. This is another reason that every individual over 65 years of age should make sure to have a routine eye examination regularly.

AMD Risk Factors

There are some risk factors of developing AMD including Caucasian race, being over the age of 65, smoking and family history. Any individual that is at increased risk should make sure to schedule an annual eye exam. Speaking to your optometrist about proper nutrition including green leafy vegetables, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, is also advised.

Varieties of Macular Degeneration

Generally, AMD is typically diagnosed as either dry or wet. The dry form is more commonplace and is theorized to be caused by advanced age and macular tissue thinning or a build-up of pigment in the macula. Wet macular degeneration, also known as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina which leak blood, which kills the retinal cells and causes blind spots in the central vision. Often the wet form leads to more severe vision loss.

Can Macular Degeneration Be Cured?

While there is no cure for AMD, there are treatments that can delay the progression. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist is dependent on the type of AMD and may involve laser surgery or medical injections or in some cases, dietary supplements. For any treatment to succeed, early diagnosis greatly improves the chances of successful treatment. An optometrist may also be able to recommend devices to help you cope with any visual difficulty that has already occurred. Such loss of sight that can't be corrected by the usual measures such as glasses, contact lenses or surgery is known as low vision. There are a number of low vision devices available today that can help individuals to preserve autonomy in routine activities.

It's possible to protect your eyesight by being aware of the risks and signs of AMD. Contact your optometrist to find out more about AMD and low vision.