Steps for saving your sight
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disorder affecting people age 50 and older. The National Eye Institute (NEI) reports that it is a leading cause of vision loss in seniors; however, AMD by itself does not lead to complete blindness.
AMD causes thinning of the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp, clear vision in your direct line of sight. According to Mayo Clinic, Age-related Macular Degeneration doesn’t affect peripheral vision and oftentimes develops in one eye first, affecting both eyes later. The disorder advances slowly so vision loss might not occur for a long time.
Dry Macular Degeneration sometimes can progress to Wet Macular Degeneration, which is characterized by blood vessels that grow under the retina and leak. The wet type is more likely to cause a sudden change in vision and to result in serious vision loss.
Age is a major risk factor for AMD, which is most likely to occur after age 60. NEI offers other risk factors for the disorder, including:
- Smoking – Smoking doubles the risk of AMD.
- Race – AMD is more common among Caucasians than among African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
- Family history and Genetics – People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk of developing it.
- Obesity – Being obese may increase your chance that early or intermediate macular degeneration will progress to the more severe form of the disease.
The Institute advises you might be able to reduce the risk of AMD or to slow its progression by making healthy lifestyle choices such as:
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Eat a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish
Although AMD does not lead to complete blindness, the loss of central vision it causes can interfere with simple, everyday activities such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, write, or to do close work, such as cooking or home repair. Mayo Clinic offers the following symptoms that usually develop slowly and without pain.
- Visual distortions, such as straight lines seeming bent
- Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
- The need for brighter light when reading or doing close work
- Increased difficulty adapting to low light levels, such as when entering a dimly lit restaurant
- Increased blurriness of printed words
- Decreased intensity or brightness of colors
- Difficulty recognizing faces
An annual eye exam is good for all; however, Mayo encourages people to see your eye doctor if: 1) You notice changes in your central vision; 2) Your ability to see colors and fine detail becomes impaired. The eye care professional that has examined your eyes in the past and is familiar with your medical history is the best person to answer specific questions about your sight.
Written by Becky Deo
October 18, 2018