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Risks and Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

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

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the foremost causes of loss of vision in adults aged 65 and above. AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula in the eye which is responsible for clear central vision.

What are the Warning Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration?

Early signs of age related macular degeneration are often blurred eyesight and blind spots in the center of vision. Due to the fact that the symptoms typically come on slowly without any pain, signs are often not detected until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is why it is very important to book a routine eye examination, particularly once you turn 65.

AMD Risk Factors

There are a few risk factors of developing AMD including Caucasian race, being over the age of 65, being a cigarette smoker, obesity, high blood pressure and family history. Any individual that is at increased risk should be sure to schedule a yearly eye exam. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your eye doctor can also help reduce your chances of developing AMD.

Two Kinds of AMD

While the causes are not known for certain, AMD is typically diagnosed as either dry or wet. The dry version is found more frequently and is theorized to be a result of advanced age and macular tissue thinning or a build-up of pigment in the macula. Wet macular degeneration, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results when new blood vessels grow under the retina which seep blood and fluid, which kills the retinal cells and causes blind spots in the central vision. Often wet macular degeneration results in more serious vision loss.

Can AMD Be Cured?

While there are treatments that can delay the progression of macular degeneration, the disease currently has no cure. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist depends on the type of macular degeneration and may involve nutritional supplements, laser surgery or certain medications that stop abnormal blood vessel growth. In any case, early detection and treatment is critical. Your optometrist may also be able to discuss and prescribe devices to help you deal with any loss of sight that has already occurred. Vision loss that is not able to be corrected by glasses, contacts or surgery is known as low vision. There are many low vision aids available today to greatly assist in preserving self-sufficiency in routine activities.

It's possible to save your eyesight by being knowledgeable about the risks and symptoms of macular degeneration. Schedule a visit with your optometrist to learn more about macular degeneration and low vision.