Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading reasons behind vision loss in those over the age of 65. AMD is characterized by a deterioration of the macula of the retina which is the part of the eye that is responsible for sharp vision in the center of your field of view.
Signs of AMD
The first signs of AMD are usually fuzzy vision and dark spots in the center of vision. Due to the fact that the vision loss usually happens at a slow pace and painlessly, the effects may not be perceived until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is why every individual over 65 years of age should be sure to have a routine eye exam on a regular basis.
What are the Risk Factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration?
If you are of Caucasian decent, over 65 years of age, who smokes, consumes a diet low in nutrients or has family members that have had AMD, you are at higher risk of developing the disease. Any individual that possesses the above risk factors should be sure to have an annual eye exam. Speaking to your eye doctor about proper nutrition including antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids is also advised.
Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration
Generally, AMD is usually diagnosed as either wet or dry. The dry version is found more often and is theorized to be a result of aging and macular tissue thinning or pigment build-up in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina which seep blood, which kills the retinal cells and causes vision loss in the central vision. Usually wet AMD results in more serious vision loss.
Although there isn’t a cure for AMD, there are treatments that can delay the progression. Depending on the type of macular degeneration treatment may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, dietary supplements. For any treatment to succeed, early diagnosis and treatment is essential. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you cope with any visual difficulty that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that can't be corrected by the usual measures such as glasses, contact lenses or surgery is known as low vision. There are quite a few low vision aids on the market today to greatly assist in sustaining self-sufficiency in daily activities.
It's possible to protect your vision by being aware of the risk factors and signs of AMD. Don't delay in scheduling your yearly eye exam, especially if you are 65 or older.