Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of legal blindness in Americans ages 65 years and older. It affects as many as 11 million Americans, a number that is expected to double by 2050.
February is AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month, a time to spread the word about this eye disease. Knowing the warning signs of AMD, and taking preventive steps can help you avoid degeneration of the macula.
Who’s Most At Risk?
Age-Related Macular Degeneration most commonly occurs among people over the age of 60. AMD is more common in females than males, and more common among Caucasians than any other race.
Certain factors may increase your chance of developing AMD, including:
- A family history of macular degeneration
- High blood pressure
- Smoking cigarettes
- High cholesterol
- Eating few fruits or vegetables
Lifestyle choices play a significant role in reducing your chances of age-related macular degeneration. Avoiding obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can be done with healthy lifestyle choices:
- Eat Well. Treat your body well by eating good, wholesome foods. Eat a diet rich in fruits and green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Once or twice a week, have fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Staying away from habits that destroy our bodies — like alcohol and tobacco. Smoking increases your risk for diabetic eye disease by making blood pressure and diabetes harder to control.
- Exercise. Routine exercise keeps your eyes healthy too! Exercise is good for diabetes and blood pressure control. Managing your body’s health, eyes included, means staying active. Daily walks or time spent in the gym, whatever activity you choose – keep your body moving.
- Maintain healthy blood pressure. High blood pressure creates a higher risk for eye disease and vision loss. Check your blood pressure each week and have your family doctor treat high blood pressure problems.
Routine eye exams are another great way to stay ahead of AMD. The optometrists at your local Berkeley Eye Center can catch early stage AMD. We recommend eye exams once per calendar year, and most insurance plans cover this exam.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
AMD is usually a slow, painless loss of vision. With any slow onset medical condition, routine exams are the best way to catch the early signs. Some early warning signs of AMD include:
- Shadowy areas in your central vision
- White areas in your central vision
- Fuzzy or distorted vision
- Diminished or changed color perception
- Straight lines appear distorted
If you experience any of these symptoms, see your Berkeley Eye Center ophthalmologist right away. Our doctors can perform different exams to check for AMD, and prepare a treatment plan. Unfortunately, there is no treatment that can restore vision loss from AMD. However, it is possible to prevent the advancement of AMD with proper diagnosis and treatment.