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Risk Factors and Symptoms of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

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

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a foremost cause of loss of vision in adults aged 65 and over. AMD is characterized by a deterioration of the macula of the retina which functions to allow sharp central vision.

What are the Indications of AMD?

Early signs of AMD include distorted vision or blind spots in the central vision. Due to the fact that the symptoms typically come on gradually and painlessly, signs may not be noticed until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is why every individual 65 and over should be sure to have a comprehensive eye exam at least annually.

Age Related Macular Degeneration Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors of developing AMD including Caucasian race, age (over 65), smoking and genetics. Any individual that possesses these risk factors should be certain to schedule an annual eye exam. Learning about proper nutritional changes with your eye doctor can also help lower your risk of vision loss.

Dry Macular Degeneration vs. Wet Macular Degeneration

While the causes are not known for certain, macular degeneration is typically categorized as either dry or wet. Dry AMD is more common and may be a result of aging and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment build-up in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which leak blood and fluid, which kills the retinal cells and causes vision loss in the central vision. Usually the wet form is the more serious of the two.

Can AMD Be Cured?

While there are treatments that can delay the progression of macular degeneration, there is currently no cure for the disease. Depending on the type of macular degeneration the course of treatment may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, nutritional supplements. For any treatment to succeed, early diagnosis greatly enhances the chances of successful treatment. Speak to your eye doctor also about devices to help you adapt to any loss of sight that you have already sustained. Vision loss that cannot be improved by standard measures such as glasses, contacts or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are a growing number of low vision aids that can be used today to help individuals to maintain autonomy in routine activities.

You can protect your eyesight by being knowledgeable about the risks and symptoms of AMD. Contact your eye doctor to find out more about macular degeneration and low vision.

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