This month has been announced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision awareness month. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the number one source of vision loss for individuals age 65 and over. Macular degeneration often leads to low vision, a phrase eye doctors use to categorize major vision loss that cannot be improved by typical measures such as regular glasses, contacts, medicine or even eye surgery. In the case of macular degeneration, a degenerative eye disease, damage is caused to the macula, the part of the retina which produces sharp vision in the central visual field. The disease causes a disruption in or blurring of the central vision zone, but typically leaves peripheral vision intact.
Low vision from age-related macular degeneration is usually progressive but occasionally disruptions in vision can drastically appear seemingly overnight. Early symptoms of low vision from AMD include blurred areas in your central visual field or very fuzzy vision. While there is currently no cure for AMD, early detection and treatment can stop progression of the disease and therefore avoid low vision. For individuals who have already experienced vision loss, a normal life can be maintained with low-vision rehabilitation.
Those at higher risk of AMD include individuals over 65, females, Caucasians and people with light eyes, severe hyperopia (farsightedness) or a genetic disposition. Risk factors that can be controlled include smoking, high blood pressure, exposure to ultraviolet light and inactivity. Proper exercise and diet including certain nutrients has been linked to prevention. Information on vitamins for preventing vision loss from macular degeneration can be found at http://www.vitaluxvitamin.ca
Individuals who suffer from low vision should consult with their eye care professional about low vision training and special equipment that can support a return to favorite activities. After a proper eye exam, a low vision specialist can prescribe suitable low vision aids such as reading telescopes and non-optical adaptive devices such as special light fixtures and signatureguides.
Since AMD and other eye diseases can be halted by early diagnosis, eye doctors suggest a routine annual eye exam for all ages. Your awareness can lead to blindness prevention.