February is National Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Awareness Month
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the number one cause of severe vision loss in U.S. adults over age 60. The devastating condition affects the central vision of as many as 15 million Americans, impairing their ability to see normally and perform many necessary tasks.
This February, in observance of National AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month, we encourage Americans over the age of 60 to learn the warning signs of AMD and schedule an annual dilated eye exam. If you or a loved has already been diagnosed with AMD or low vision, check out our section on low vision devices to discover what tools and resources can help support a more independent life.
AMD is the gradual but persistent breakdown of the macula, which is the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision needed for seeing objects clearly. Over time, this deterioration can affect the ability to read, drive, identify faces, watch television, navigate stairs and perform a suite of other daily tasks. For many adults, this visual deterioration occurs in one eye and may eventually form in the other.
There are two types of AMD – “dry” and “wet”. The majority of people with AMD have the “dry” form, which is less severe and develops gradually. It is important to carefully monitor central vision when diagnosed with AMD, because it can quickly develop into a more serious condition – wet AMD.
According to vision experts, the top five risk factors for AMD are:
Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they have a macular problem until they notice blurred or distorted vision. If you or someone in your family is at an increased risk for AMD, see an eye care provider as soon as possible to undergo an eye exam. Early detection of AMD is the most important step to preventing serious vision loss.
There is no treatment for dry AMD but doctors have found a link between nutrition and the progression of dry AMD. Introducing low-fat foods and dark leafy greens into your diet can slow vision loss and may even increase your overall wellness.
If wet AMD is detected early, laser treatment is a popular method to help prevent severe vision loss.
As we observe National AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month, take this opportunity to reduce your risk of developing AMD. Avoid smoking, exercise regularly, maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol, and eat a healthy diet that includes green leafy vegetables and fish. For extra motivation, find a friend, partner or neighbor to engage in healthy habits with you!