February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month
What Is AMD? Could I Be At Risk?
February isn’t just about Valentine’s Day and showing appreciation to your loved ones. It’s also a great reminder to give yourself some well-deserved care and attention, including your eyes. Did you know that macular degeneration affects over 1.8 million Americans over the age of 40? In observance of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) awareness month, I Heart Eyewear encourages our valued readers to learn more about the eye disease. Continue reading for information on the types of AMD, risk factors, early detection and prevention towards optimal eye health.
Two Forms of AMD
AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people aged 65 and up. Most AMD starts as the most common form or the dry (atrophic) type, and gradually develops to the wet (neovascular or exudative) type in 10-20% of individuals. Both forms are characterized by the deterioration of the macula, or the oval area near the central part of the retina comprised of cells responsible for visual acuity (sharpness of vision). Though the disease is always bilateral and often occurs in both eyes, it does not necessarily progress at the same pace. Here are Age-related Macular Degeneration signs and symptoms to look out for in each type:
- Blind spots or blurred central vision in one or both eyes
- Impaired ability to see colors and fine detail
- Difficulty adapting to low light levels or the need for brighter light when reading
- Can eventually progress to the more serious, “wet” AMD form
- Growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina leaking fluid and blood towards the macula
- Reduced brightness or intensity of colors
- General haziness in overall vision and reduced central vision exhibited by one or both eyes
- Visual distortions, i.e. straight lines appearing bent, or street signs looking lopsided
- Abrupt onset of symptoms that rapidly progress
Risk Factors of AMD
Dry and wet AMD present the same risk factors including:
- Advanced Age (over 50 years old)
- Family History of AMD
- High Blood Pressure / Cholesterol
- Vitamin Deficiency (lack of fruit and vegetable nutrition)
There are several lifestyle changes and best practices that can help reduce your risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration. What's thought to have been incurable can now be effectively inhibited, giving hope to people who've been diagnosed with the disease.
A recent study conducted by the National Eye Institute revealed that beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and zinc supplements in high dosages may slow the progression of both dry or wet AMD. However, this action definitely involves some kind of risk, so anyone considering taking high-dose nutritional supplements should consult with their doctor first.
Incorporating fruits, vegetables, and fish into your diet can naturally and greatly decrease your risk for AMD. Prevent Blindness America suggests wearing 99%-100% UV-protective sunglasses, quitting smoking, and ensuring eye safety by wearing protective eyewear in hazardous situations.
Most importantly, get your eyes checked regularly for a comprehensive dilated eye exam and guidance on proper eye care towards healthy eyesight. If you or a loved one need reading glasses, choose stylish, quality reading glasses from I Heart Eyewear.
Spread the word and help increase AMD awareness!