LIVING WITH AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
As you age not only does your wealth of knowledge grow, but also the chances increase that you may develop Age-Related Macular Degeneration or AMD. It is important to maintain not only routine doctor appointments, but eye doctor and dental checkups as we age. Doing so may help you to have a better quality of life as you enter the golden years.
With February being national AMD awareness month we want to educate you on the signs, symptoms and treatments of AMD. Knowing not only what to look for, but also how you can treat AMD will help ease the apprehension of maintaining your routine eye exams.
AMD is the leading cause of vision loss of people above the age of 50. AMD causes damage to the macula, a spot near the center of the retina. This disease blurs the sharp, central vision you need for “straight-ahead” activities such as reading, sewing, and driving. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. The rate at which damage can be done can vary. In some people it is a slow process over years. While with others it is more quickly and can also involve both eyes. While Age-related Macular Degeneration does not result in complete vision loss it can interfere with activities of daily living.
Who is more susceptible to developing AMD? Can your lifestyle make a difference as to your chances of developing AMD? As we discussed, people over the age of 50 are most likely to develop this disease.
Additional factors that may increase your risk are:
- Smoking. Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of developing AMD.
- Family history. If your family history includes AMD you are at a higher risk.
- Ethnicity. AMD is more common in Caucasians that other races.
- You have the power to take control of your health. These are some things you can do to help prevent AMD:
- Eat a healthy diet rich in leafy veggies and fish
- Avoid smoking
- Maintain proper vitals such as blood pressure and cholesterol.
AMD is best detected by maintaining routine eye exams. 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.
While there is no cure for this disease, things such changing your diet and adding proper exercise can help to slow down the loss of vision. You have the power to choose. Take control and choose a healthier lifestyle. Your eyes will thank you for it.
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.