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What is Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

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

Are you aware that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of loss of vision in adults over the age of 65? AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula of the retina which functions to allow sharp vision in the center of your field of view.

Symptoms of Age Related Macular Degeneration

The first warning signs of AMD are often fuzzy eyesight and blind spots in the center of vision. Since the vision loss usually occurs gradually without any pain, the effects may not be perceived until the disease becomes more serious. This is another reason that every individual over 65 years of age should make sure to have a comprehensive eye exam at least annually.

Risk Factors for AMD

There are some risk factors of developing AMD including being Caucasian, age (over 65), smoking and family history. Anyone that is at increased risk should be certain to schedule an eye exam on a yearly basis. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your eye doctor can also help reduce your risk of vision loss.

Dry Macular Degeneration and Wet Macular Degeneration

In general, AMD is typically categorized as either wet or dry. Dry macular degeneration is diagnosed more often and may be a result of advanced age and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment build-up in the macula. Wet AMD, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina which seep blood, destroying the cells and resulting in blind spots. Often wet AMD leads to more serious vision loss.

AMD Treatment

While there are treatments that can delay the progression of AMD, the disease currently has no cure. Depending on the type of macular degeneration the course of treatment may involve laser surgery or medical injections or in some cases, dietary supplements. In all cases, early diagnosis and treatment is essential. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you adapt to any vision loss that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that can't be recovered by glasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are quite a few low vision devices available today to greatly assist in preserving self-sufficiency in daily activities.

You can save your eyesight by being aware of the risk factors and symptoms of macular degeneration. Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.