Are You at Risk for Macular Degeneration?
February is national Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) awareness month. Macular Degeneration causes loss in the center of the field of vision. In dry macular degeneration, the center of the retina deteriorates. With wet macular degeneration, leaky blood vessels grow under the retina.
While there is no cure for Macular Degeneration early detection is key to slowing down vision loss and keeping your sight. Studies have also shown that AMD can affect cognitive functioning. For those that are visually impaired memory is one of the most important things.
Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss. It is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina. The central portion of the retina, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing vision for the eye, allowing us to read, recognize faces or colors, drive and do many day-to-day activities.
AMD is best detected by maintaining routine eye exams and sharing family history of anyone having Macular Degeneration. Bissell Eye Care utilizes Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), a non-invasive office-based imaging test that uses a special light to scan the macula and determine whether there is fluid in the macula, potentially signifying wet AMD. Often people question why dilation is part of a regular exam. This allows us to look into the back of your eyes for any changes that may be occurring. This disease like so many is very difficult to notice until you have already lost a large portion of your vision.
Lifestyle changes can help lower your risk of developing AMD. Some lifestyle changes might include proper exercise and diet, avoiding smoking, and protecting your eyes from the UV rays of the sun. People that run a higher risk of developing AMD are people who have a family history, race, Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease than African American or Hispanic heritage, and smokers.
There are three stages of AMD:
- Early AMD: At this stage most, people do not experience vision loss. The presence of medium-sized drusen (yellow deposits beneath the retina), is usually an early sign your eye doctor looks for.
- Intermediate AMD: This is where vision loss may start to be noticed, however it may not be enough to be noticeable. Specific tests will look for pigment changes in the retina and larger drusen deposits.
- Late AMD: At this stage vision loss has become noticeable.
Additional factors that may increase your risk are:
- Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of developing AMD.
- Family history. If your family history includes AMD you are at a higher risk.
- AMD is more common in Caucasians than other races.
You have the power to take control of your health. These are some things you can do to help prevent AMD:
- Exercise Regularly
- Eat a healthy diet rich in leafy veggies and fish
- Avoid smoking
- Maintain proper vitals such as blood pressure and cholesterol.
You have the power to choose. Take control and choose a healthier lifestyle. Your eyes will thank you for it.
About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening and Saturday appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more information, visit bisselleyecare.com or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.