February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month

Elderly man with age related macular degeneration

If you are over the age of 65 and notice your vision starting to fade, there’s a good chance you could be experiencing the onset of age-related macular degeneration.

More commonly known as AMD, age-related macular degeneration is a chronic eye condition that occurs when the central part of the retina called the “macula” deteriorates and central vision is lost.

AMD is the top cause of critical vision loss and legal blindness in adults over age 65 in the United States. By 2030, it is estimated that more than 6 million Americans will develop the disease.

When someone experiences AMD, they lose the ability to see the finer details of the world in front of them. Road signs become more difficult to read while driving. Newspapers are pulled in closer to focus on headlines and fine print. And loved ones’ faces become harder to recognize.

It is a difficult condition that doesn’t receive the serious attention it deserves. If left unaddressed, AMD can progress from blurred vision to a complete loss of central vision and even legal blindness in advanced cases.

Although age is the main reason why people develop AMD, high blood pressure, smoking, and Vitamin D deficiency are all factors that can increase the risks of developing macular degeneration.

There is no cure for macular degeneration but, for those who find themselves developing the condition, here are a few ways you can treat this degenerative disease:

Anti-angiogenic Drugs
Administered as an injection into the eye, anti-angiogenic drugs stop the formation of new blood vessels and keep abnormal vessels from leaking and causing “wet” macular degeneration.

Photodynamic Laser Therapy
This two-step process uses an injected drug and high-energy laser light to destroy abnormal blood cells present in AMD. The light-sensitive drug is injected into the bloodstream and absorbed by the abnormal blood cells. When the laser is shined into the eye, it activates the drug and destroys the cells.

Vitamins and Supplements
Your parents weren’t lying when they preached the value of vitamins. Unfortunately, many people don’t get enough valuable nutrients from their diets. In these cases, dietary supplements that include Vitamins A, C, D & E, beta-carotene, zinc, copper, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids could decrease the risk of vision loss for people with intermediate to advanced AMD.

Vision Aids
Menus, magazines, music sheets, and more are more difficult to make out with macular degeneration. Vision and reading aids like electronic glasses and magnifying glasses can help with focusing and clarity by enlarging nearby objects.
Although there is no cure for AMD and the number of cases will continue to increase in the coming years, there are many treatment options that can slow or control its progression and preserve quality of life.

If you would like to learn more about macular degeneration or Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, check out these resources:

American Macular Degeneration Foundation

John Hopkins Medicine

American Foundation for the Blind

American Academy of Ophthalmology

nJoy Vision does not provide treatment for macular degeneration. Please consult your eye care professional if you have macular degeneration or are experiencing symptoms of macular degeneration. If you do not have an eye care professional, see our list of nJoy Vision affliate eye doctors to find one near you.

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