Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the vision of more than 15 million Americans and is the leading cause of visual impairment of those 55 years and older.
Dry AMD occurs when dry, yellowish deposits accumulate beneath the macula, the most sensitive part of the retina, providing the most accurate part of the vision. Dry AMD is the less destructive type of macular degeneration and accounts for 85 to 90 percent of the cases. While Dry AMD usually does not cause a total loss of vision it must be closely monitored because it can lead to the second, and more serious type of AMD – Wet AMD.
Wet AMD occurs when tiny abnormal blood vessels begin to grow behind the retina and leak.
The main risk factor for developing AMD is age. Other risk factors include diet and nutrition, over-exposure to sunlight, smoking, heredity, gender, race, high blood pressure and diabetes. The American Optometric Association and Prevent Blindness America recommend the following to reduce your risk of developing AMD:
- Maintain a nutritionally balanced diet.
- Eat foods or take supplements that contain antioxidants.
- Avoid trans-fats.
- Control your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Stay active and exercise.
- Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses that block out 100% of UV light.
- Avoid smoking – AMD is twice as common in people who smoke.
- Visit your eye care professional routinely for comprehensive eye exams.
We cannot prevent AMD, but early detection and treatment can minimize the effects of AMD. Regular eye exams are the only means of detecting macular degeneration, as symptoms often go unnoticed until it is too late for treatments to be effective.