With the National Eye Institute proclaiming February as Low Vision Awareness Month, there has never been a better time for people to consider their eye health. Although many conditions exist that can damage a person’s eyes, few are as concerning as age-related macular degeneration.
What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition where the macula, a pigmented section in the back of the retina, begins to deteriorate and lose its sensitivity to light. The causes of AMD are not yet known to doctors, but (as the title suggests) the condition is related to aging and is the leading cause of blindness in Americans over the age of 50.
AMD has two types:
- Dry Macular Degeneration is where the macula and retina begin to shrink and cause pigments to slowly build up. Around 90% of Macular Degeneration cases fit into this category.
- Wet Macular Degeneration is where blood vessels behind the eye burst and seep into the shriveled macula to form blinding scar tissue.
AMD can be detected early on through a number of tests, such as the Amsler test which places a grid in front of your ears and tests whether you can see all of the lines and if they appear straight or wavy.
How Can I Prevent AMD?
Despite growing awareness of the condition and the importance of ocular health, there are no known treatments to restore the macula or to cure AMD. Fortunately, the progress of macular degeneration is very slow, meaning very few people will be afflicted with total blindness.
However, several habits have been shown to contribute to AMD, such as smoking, inactive lifestyles, and a lack of vegetables in a diet. Because of this, medical professionals will recommend lifestyle changes to counteract the degeneration and help individuals retain their eyesight longer. As mentioned in our previous blogs, Vitamin A helps prevent blindness, making it another valuable resource to protect your eyes against AMD.
Regular exposure to UV light has also been shown to increase a person’s macular degeneration, leading some doctors to prescribe UV-protective sunglasses.
AMD is just one of the serious conditions that can affect your eyes over the course of your life, but there are many ways that you can counter these conditions and maintain your vision. Give Texarkana Eye Associates a call today at 903-838-0783 or check us out online to speak with our talented optometrists about any vision tests you or your family might need.