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Risk Factors and Warning Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)


Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the primary causes of loss of vision in individuals aged 65 and above. AMD is a condition that causes a breakdown of the macula in the eye which is responsible for clear vision in the center of your field of view.


Signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration


The first signs of AMD are often blurriness or dark spots in the central vision. Because the vision loss typically occurs slowly and painlessly, the effects may not be detected until more severe vision loss is apparent. This is why it is very important to book a comprehensive eye examination, especially after the age of 65.


What are the Risk Factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration?


If you are a Caucasian over 65 years of age, who smokes, is obese and has high blood pressure or has family members that have had AMD, your chances of getting AMD are higher. Anyone that is at increased risk should be sure to schedule an eye exam on a yearly basis. Consulting with your optometrist about proper nutrition including vitamins such as C, E, Beta-carotene (Vitamin A), and zinc, which are all antioxidants, and omega-3, can also help lower your chances of vision loss.


Dry Macular Degeneration and Wet Macular Degeneration


Macular degeneration is divided into two forms, dry and wet. The dry version is diagnosed more often and is theorized to be caused by aging and macular tissue thinning or a build-up of pigment in the macula. The wet form, also called neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina which leak blood and fluid, destroying the cells and creating blind spots. Typically the wet form is the more serious of the two.


Can AMD Be Cured?


While there is no cure for AMD, certain treatments exist that can reduce vision loss. The treatment prescribed by your optometrist is dependent on the type of AMD and may involve laser surgery or medications to stop blood vessel growth or in some cases, nutritional supplements. In all instances, early diagnosis greatly enhances the likelihood of successful treatment. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you adapt to any visual difficulty that has already occurred. Vision loss that is not able to be corrected by the usual measures such as glasses, contact lenses or surgical procedures is known as low vision. There are a number of low vision devices on the market today to help individuals to retain independence in daily activities.


You can protect your vision by being knowledgeable about the risk factors and signs of AMD. Visit your eye doctor to find out more about AMD and low vision.