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Aging and Vision: Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

We are currently in the middle of age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision month.

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of loss of vision in those aged 65 and over. AMD is a condition that affects the macula in the eye which functions to allow clear vision in the center of your field of view.

Age Related Macular Degeneration Warning Signs

The first signs of age related macular degeneration are often fuzzy vision and dark spots in the center of vision. Since the symptoms typically come on gradually and painlessly, symptoms may not be detected until the disease become more serious. This is another reason that every individual over 65 years of age should make sure to schedule a routine eye exam regularly.

Age Related Macular Degeneration Risk Factors

A number of risk factors have been identified including Caucasian race, being over the age of 65, smoking and family history. Any individual that is at increased risk should be certain to have a yearly eye exam. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your optometrist is also a good way to protect yourself.

Types of AMD

Generally, macular degeneration is usually categorized as either wet or dry. The dry form is diagnosed more often and is theorized to maybe be a result of advanced age and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment deposits in the macula. Wet AMD, referred to as Neovascular, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels under the retina which leak blood and fluid, causing the cells to die and resulting in blind spots. Often wet macular degeneration is the more serious of the two.

Is There a Cure for Macular Degeneration?

While there isn’t cure for macular degeneration, certain treatments exist that can reduce loss of sight. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist depends on the type of AMD and may involve laser surgery or medical injections or in some cases, vitamin supplements. In either case, early diagnosis and treatment is critical. An optometrist may also be able to suggest devices to help you adapt to any vision loss that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that is not able to be corrected by standard measures such as glasses, contact lenses or surgery is known as low vision. There are quite a few low vision devices available today to greatly assist in maintaining self-sufficiency in routine activities.

It’s possible to save your vision by being knowledgeable about the risks and symptoms of AMD. Visit your eye doctor to learn more about macular degeneration and low vision.