Did you know that age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the primary reasons for loss of vision in those aged 65 and over? AMD is a condition that causes a breakdown of the macula in the eye which is responsible for clear vision in the center of your field of view.
Could it be AMD?
The first warning signs of age related macular degeneration include blurriness or dark spots in the central vision. Because the symptoms typically come on at a slow pace and painlessly, the effects may not be noticed until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is why it is crucial to have a comprehensive eye examination, especially once you turn 65.
AMD Risk Factors
If you are of Caucasian decent, over the age of 65, a smoker, someone who consumes a diet low in nutrients or have family members that have had AMD, your chances of getting AMD are increased. Anyone that possesses the above risk factors should make certain to have a yearly eye exam. Consulting with your eye doctor about proper nutrition including vitamins such as C, E, Beta-carotene (Vitamin A), luteine and zinc, which are all antioxidants and omega-3s can also help lower your risk of developing AMD.
Dry AMD vs. Wet AMD
While the causes are not known for certain, AMD is usually categorized as either wet or dry. The dry form is more common and is theorized to maybe be a result of advanced age and macular tissue thinning or pigment deposits in the macula. Wet AMD, referred to as neovascular age related macular degeneration, results from the growth of new blood vessels under the retina which leak blood and fluid, which destroys the retinal cells and causes blind spots in the central vision. Usually the wet form is the more serious of the two.
Treatment for Macular Degeneration
While there is no cure for macular degeneration, certain treatments exist that can slow or minimize loss of sight. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist is dependent on the type of AMD and may involve nutritional supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. In any case, early diagnosis and treatment is essential. An optometrist will also be able to recommend devices to help you adapt to any loss of sight that you have already sustained. Vision loss that cannot be improved by eyeglasses, contacts or surgical procedures is called low vision. There are quite a few low vision aids on the market today to greatly assist in preserving autonomy in daily activities.
You can protect your vision by being aware of the risk factors and signs of macular degeneration. Don't delay in scheduling an annual eye exam, especially if you are over the age of 65.