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The Aging Eye: Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

This month has been dedicated by Prevent Blindness America to raise awareness about age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a primary cause of vision loss in adults over age 65. AMD is characterized by a deterioration of the macula of the retina which functions to allow clear vision in the center of your field of view.

Warning Signs of AMD

The first signs of AMD are usually unclear vision and blind spots in the center of vision. Since the symptoms typically come on slowly and painlessly, signs are sometimes not perceived until the disease has progressed. This is why every individual 65 and over should be sure to have a comprehensive eye exam on a regular basis.

Risk Factors for AMD

There are a few risk factors of developing AMD including being Caucasian, aged over 65, being a cigarette smoker, eating an unhealthy diet and family history. Any individual that possesses the above risk factors should make sure to have an eye exam on a yearly basis. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your optometrist can also help lower your chances of vision loss.

Dry Macular Degeneration and Wet Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is divided into two categories, wet or dry. Dry AMD is diagnosed more frequently and may be a result of advanced age and macular tissue thinning or deposits of pigment in the macula. Wet macular degeneration, also known as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which seep blood and fluid, destroying the cells and creating blind spots. Usually wet AMD causes more serious vision loss.

AMD Treatment

Although there are treatments that can slow the loss of sight that results from AMD, the disease currently has no cure. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist depends on the type of macular degeneration and may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, vitamin supplements. In all instances, early detection and treatment is essential. Speak to your eye doctor also about devices to help you deal with any loss of sight that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that is not able to be corrected by eyeglasses, contacts or surgery is known as low vision. There are quite a few low vision devices on the market today to help individuals to maintain independence in daily activities.

It's possible to save your eyesight by being aware of the risks and symptoms of macular degeneration. Don't delay in scheduling your yearly eye exam, especially if you are 65 or older.

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