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Risks and Warning Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of loss of vision in individuals aged 65 and over. AMD is characterized by a degeneration of the macula in the eye which functions to allow sharp vision in the center of your field of view.

Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration

Early warning signs of AMD are often fuzzy eyesight and blind spots in the center of vision. Because the vision loss usually occurs at a slow pace and painlessly, the effects may not be perceived until more severe vision loss is apparent. For this reason every individual over 65 years of age should be sure to have a routine eye exam on a regular basis.

Risk Factors for AMD

There are a few factors that put you at greater risk of developing AMD including race (Caucasian), being over the age of 65, being a cigarette smoker, eating a diet lacking in nutrients and family history. Any individual that possesses these risk factors should be certain to have a yearly eye exam. Consulting with your eye doctor about proper nutrition including green leafy vegetables, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can also help reduce your risk of vision loss.

Dry Macular Degeneration vs. Wet Macular Degeneration

Generally, macular degeneration is usually diagnosed as either wet or dry. Dry macular degeneration is found more often and may be caused by aging and thinning of the macular tissues or pigment build-up in the macula. Wet AMD, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels under the retina which leak blood, causing the cells to die and resulting in blind spots. Often wet macular degeneration is the more serious of the two.

Macular Degeneration Treatment

Although there are treatments that can delay the progression of macular degeneration, the disease currently has no cure. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist is dependent on the type of AMD and may involve dietary supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. For any treatment to succeed, early detection greatly enhances the likelihood of successful treatment. Your eye doctor may also be able to discuss and prescribe devices to help you adapt to any loss of sight that you have already sustained. Such loss of sight that is not able to be recovered by eyeglasses, contacts or surgery is called low vision. There are quite a few low vision aids available today to make everyday activities easier.

Learn about the risks and symptoms of AMD before it's too late. Schedule a visit with your eye doctor to learn more about macular degeneration and low vision.