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Risks and Symptoms of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

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

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading reasons behind loss of vision in individuals over age 65. 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 warning signs of age related macular degeneration are usually unclear vision and spots in the center of vision. Due to the fact that the symptoms typically come on gradually and painlessly, signs are sometimes not observed until the disease has progressed. This is another reason that it is very important to schedule a comprehensive eye examination, especially after the age of 65.

Risk Factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration

There are some factors that put you at greater risk of developing AMD including Caucasian race, age (over 65), being a smoker, eating a diet low in nutrients and genetics. For those that are categorized as being at greater risk, annual eye examinations are crucial. Speaking to your optometrist about proper nutrition including vitamins such as C, E, Beta-carotene (Vitamin A), and zinc, which are all antioxidants, and omega-3, can also help reduce your chances of developing AMD.

Wet and Dry AMD

Generally, AMD is usually diagnosed as either wet or dry. Dry AMD is more common and is thought to be a result of advanced age and macular tissue thinning or pigment build-up in the macula. The wet form, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which leak blood, which destroys the retinal cells and causes vision loss in the central vision. Usually the wet form is the more serious of the two.

AMD Treatment

While there isn’t a cure for macular degeneration, certain treatments exist that can halt or minimize loss of sight. 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. Speak to your eye doctor also about devices to help you cope with any visual difficulty that has already occurred. Vision loss that is not able to be improved by eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are many low vision devices that can be used today that can make everyday activities easier.

Learn about the risks and symptoms of AMD before it's too late. Don't delay in scheduling an annual eye exam, particularly if you are over 65.

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