February is National AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration) /Low Vision Month. Are you familiar with AMD, its symptoms and effects?
In support of this awareness month, we’ll be shedding a little light on Age-Related Macular Degeneration to keep you informed and help you stay healthy.
What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of legal blindness in Americans ages 65 years and older. It affects more than 2.1 million Americans. According to the National Institutes of Health, that number is expected to more than double, hitting 5.4 million by 2050.
AMD is the degeneration of the eye’s macula, the area of the retina responsible for central vision and seeing fine details.
AMD is usually characterized by a slow loss of central vision. The first sign of AMD is often a haziness or blurring of the central vision and a decrease in the intensity and clarity of fine detail.
While a person with AMD may not become completely blind, they may experience a gradually increased blurriness or blind spot in their central vision. This may impair their ability to perform everyday activities such as reading or driving.
Dry AMD, which develops gradually and is less severe, is the most common form, and it is found in approximately 80% of AMD patients. The more severe form, wet AMD, is found in about 20% of patients and almost always begins as dry macular degeneration, making it critical that dry AMD patients have careful, regular monitoring.
Who is 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. These include a family history of macular degeneration, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking cigarettes, high cholesterol, and eating few fruits or vegetables.
If a close relative has AMD, your risk of developing it is 50% higher.
There are no vision restoration options for patients with advanced or severe dry AMD, but early diagnosis provides options for preventing a worsening of the condition.
For patients who are diagnosed with AMD, combinations of certain vitamins taken as recommended by your eye doctor can keep vision from getting worse.
For wet AMD, laser surgery, photodynamic therapy and medications may be recommended as treatment.
To combat the effects of vision loss, low vision aids such as special lenses and therapy can help you better use the vision you have and improve the quality of your day-to-day life.
Early detection through a comprehensive eye exam and treatment are vital to combat the effects of AMD. If you have a family history or if you are concerned that you may have AMD, call 713-526-1600 to schedule an appointment at Berkeley Eye Center or schedule online.