Are You Protected Against One of the Most Common Causes of Blindness?
At Eye Centers of Florida, we like to make sure patients are aware of some of the most common eye diseases and conditions for which they may be at risk.
February is AMD awareness month. Here’s everything you need to know about this common eye condition, and how you can save on preventative care today.
What Is AMD?
AMD stands for Age-related Macular Degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in people 50 years of age or older.
Within the eye, there are several structures that can deteriorate over time. One is the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina (the back of the eye). The macula is composed of millions of cells that sense light and control the sharpness of your vision, especially through the center of your vision field.
The macula is the most sensitive part of the retina, which is why it tends to deteriorate more quickly than other eye structures. When Age-related Macular Degeneration occurs, your eyes’ ability to send signals through the optical nerves and produce vision is damaged. A sign of AMD is a dark, blurry area in the center of the vision field that grows as the condition worsens.
What Are the Risk Factors for AMD?
There are several signs that you may be at a greater risk to develop AMD as you age:
- Genetic predisposition: If you have a family history of AMD, you may be at greater risk of developing it yourself
- Race: Caucasians are at higher risk for AMD than African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or other races and ethnic groups
- Lifestyle choices:A full list of the factors that can raise and lower the risk of AMD is not clear, but smoking is a behavior that can greatly heighten the chance that you’ll develop it as you age
How Can you Prevent AMD?
Age-related Macular Degeneration is not easily treated, but you can lower your risk. Of course, you won’t be able to change your race or your family history, but you can make certain lifestyle choices to support your eye health and at the very least, slow down the progression of the disease. These changes include:
- Stop smoking
- Eat a healthy diet to maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels
- Exercise regularly
How Is AMD Diagnosed?
One of the main issues with AMD is that before it’s developed, you may not even notice the early vision loss. This makes it all that much more important to have regular eye exams, even if you don’t have any other problems with your vision.
There are several specialized tests used to detect AMD, including optical coherence tomography, fluorescein angiography, and measuring central vision using an Amsler grid. A warning sign for AMD is the appearance of drusen, or discolored areas beneath the retina.