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Aging and Your Eyes: Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

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 a leading reason for vision loss in those aged 65 and above? AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula of the retina which functions to allow clear central vision.

What are the Indications of AMD?

Early signs of age related macular degeneration include distorted vision and dark spots in the center of vision. Due to the fact that the symptoms typically come on at a slow pace and painlessly, the effects are sometimes not detected until more severe vision loss is apparent. For this reason every individual 65 and over should make sure to have a routine eye exam on a regular basis.

What are the Risk Factors for AMD?

There are a few risk factors of developing AMD including race (Caucasian), aged over 65, being a cigarette smoker, eating a diet lacking in nutrients and genetics. For those that are at greater risk, yearly eye exams are essential. Discussing proper nutritional changes with your optometrist can also help lower your chances of vision loss.

Dry Macular Degeneration vs. Wet Macular Degeneration

AMD is divided into two forms, wet or dry. The dry form is more commonplace and is thought to be caused by aging and macular tissue thinning or deposits of pigment in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, results when new blood vessels grow under the retina which leak blood, which destroys the retinal cells and causes blind spots in the central vision. Often wet macular degeneration leads to more severe vision loss.

Treatment for AMD

Although there are treatments that can delay the progression of macular degeneration, there is currently no cure for the disease. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist is dependent on the type of AMD and may involve dietary supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. For any treatment to succeed, early diagnosis greatly enhances the chances of successful treatment. Speak to your eye doctor also about devices to help you deal with any loss of sight that has already occurred. Vision loss that cannot be improved by eyeglasses, contacts or surgery is known as low vision. There are many low vision devices that can be used today that can help individuals to sustain self-sufficiency in routine activities.

It's possible to save your eyesight by being knowledgeable about the risks and signs of macular degeneration. Don't delay in scheduling an annual eye exam, particularly if you are 65 or older.