This month is dedicated to creating awareness of macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading source of visual impairment for seniors. AMD often leads to low vision, a phrase eye doctors use to describe major visual impairment that is also called “legal blindness” or almost total blindness. For those with AMD, a degenerative eye disease, damage occurs to the macula, the part of the retina which enables clear central vision. AMD causes a blurring of the central vision zone, but typically doesn’t affect the peripheral visual field.
Vision Impairment due to age-related macular degeneration usually comes on gradually and painlessly over time but occasionally impairment can be sudden. Early symptoms of low vision from AMD include blurred areas in your central vision or very distorted sight. While AMD doesn’t have a cure yet, early diagnosis and treatment can slow progression of the degeneration and therefore thwart low vision. For those who have already lost acuity, low-vision rehabilitation and aids can help.
Those at higher risk of AMD include seniors, women, Caucasians and individuals with light eyes, severe farsightedness or a genetic disposition. Controllable risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, exposure to ultraviolet light and being overweight. Maintaining overall physical health and a proper diet has been determined to be preventative.
Those who are living with low vision should consult with an optometrist about low vision training and specialized equipment that can support independence. After a proper examination, a low vision specialist can prescribe suitable low vision devices such as magnifiers and non-optical adaptive devices such as special light fixtures and signatureguides.
Since so many eye diseases can be prevented by early diagnosis, optometrists suggest a routine yearly eye exam for all ages. Your awareness can lead to prevention of vision loss.