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Risks and Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

This month is age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision recognition month.

How many individuals are aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the foremost reasons for loss of vision in individuals aged 65 and above? AMD is characterized by a deterioration of the macula in the eye which functions to allow clear vision in the center of your field of view.

Indications of AMD

The first warning signs of age related macular degeneration include blurriness or spots in the central vision. Due to the fact that the loss of vision usually occurs gradually and painlessly, signs are often not detected until the disease has reached a later stage. For this reason it is very important to schedule a comprehensive eye examination, particularly once you turn 65.

Risk Factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration

A number of risk factors have been determined including being Caucasian, aged over 65, smoking and genetics. Any individual that possesses these risk factors should make sure to schedule an annual eye exam. Consulting with your eye doctor about proper nutrition including green leafy vegetables, antioxidants and omega-3 can also help lower your chances of developing AMD.

Two Kinds of Macular Degeneration

AMD is divided into two forms, dry and wet. Dry AMD is more common and may be a result of advanced age and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment build-up in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, results from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which leak blood, killing the cells and resulting in blind spots. Often wet macular degeneration is the more serious of the two.

Can AMD Be Cured?

While there isn’t a cure for macular degeneration, certain treatments exist that can delay the progression. Depending on the type of AMD the course of treatment may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, vitamin supplements. 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 cope with any loss of sight that has already occurred. Vision loss that can't be recovered by standard measures such as glasses, contacts or surgery is called low vision. There are many low vision devices that can be used today that can greatly assist in sustaining self-sufficiency in daily activities.

You can save your eyesight by being aware of the risk factors and signs of macular degeneration. Schedule a visit with your eye doctor to learn more about AMD and low vision.