Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the number one cause of blindness for Americans older than 65. AMD is a chronic eye condition that happens when the central part of the retina, called the “macula,” starts to deteriorate.
Without treatment, it results in vision loss. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reminds people that early detection of AMD is critical to preserving vision because February is age-related macular degeneration awareness month. It’s estimated that by 2030, more than 6 million Americans will have AMD, but new treatments can help older people save their vision.
What are the signs of Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
The first signs of macular degeneration may include blurred vision, difficulty seeing in dim lighting, and difficulty seeing fine details, like fine print and newspaper print. As it progresses, eyesight continues deteriorating, affecting a person’s ability to read road signs, recognize colors, or recognize people you know.
People experiencing AMD may begin to feel helpless or anxious because everyday activities, like watching TV or shopping, become more challenging. Without treatment, AMD can advance until a person has lost their central vision or is declared legally blind.
What Causes Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age is the leading cause of macular degeneration, and the rates of AMD increase as a person gets older. Up to 20 percent of Americans have some form of AMD by the time they are 75 years old.
However, there are additional risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of developing AMD, including:
- Genetics, or a family history of age-related macular degeneration
- Smoking may increase the risk of AMD progressing
- Women are more likely to be affected than men
- Caucasian people are more likely to suffer from AMD than others
- Obesity can be a contributing factor
- Poor nutrition or a poor diet
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol also can have an impact
- Having certain eye conditions, such as hyperopia and a light-colored iris
How Do You Treat Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
There are different treatments your experienced eye physician may recommend when treating age-related macular degeneration. Scheduling regular eye exams and receiving an early diagnosis is key in preserving vision and keeping the disease from progressing.
If you’re a smoker, quitting smoking is essential to preserving your eye health. Certain vitamins and supplements can also decrease the risk of AMD progressing, including taking vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc oxide, and Cupric oxide.
Be sure to meet with a doctor to discuss these options before taking any vitamins or supplements. Other treatment options may include administering medication directly into the eyes or photodynamic laser therapy to destroy abnormal blood cells in AMD.
Additional visual and reading aids, including electronic and magnifying glasses, can help make reading and enjoying everyday activities easier.
See Your Eye Doctor
The experienced eye physicians at EyeHealth Northwest have treated many people with age-related macular degeneration. Though there is no cure for AMD, getting a proper diagnosis and treatment plan will help slow or control the progression of AMD and preserve vision and quality of life.
Take the first step towards keeping your eyes healthy by scheduling an appointment at EyeHealth Northwest in Portland, OR, today!