This month is dedicated to creating awareness of macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision. AMD is the foremost source of blindness for seniors. Macular degeneration can result in low vision, a term eye care professionals use to categorize major visual impairment that cannot be improved by standard treatments such as normal eye glasses, contacts, medicine or even eye surgery. In the case of macular degeneration, a progressive eye disease, impairment is caused to the macula, the area of the retina which is responsible for clear vision in the central visual field. The disease causes a vision loss relating to central vision, but typically doesn’t affect the peripheral visual field.
Vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration is usually progressive but occasionally vision loss can be sudden. Early signs of low vision from AMD include shadowy areas in your central vision or very distorted sight. Although there is currently no cure for AMD, early detection and attention can stop progression of the degeneration and therefore thwart vision impairment. For those who have already lost acuity, low-vision rehabilitation and aids can help.
Those at higher risk of AMD include seniors, females, Caucasians and individuals with blue eye color, severe farsightedness or a genetic disposition. Controllable risk factors include smoking, hypertension, exposure to ultraviolet light and obesity. Paying attention to overall physical health and a proper diet has been determined to be preventative.
Those who are living with low vision should speak to their eye doctor about low vision rehabilitation and specialized equipment that can enable a return to favorite activities. After a proper assessment, a low vision expert can help you obtain suitable low vision devices such as magnifiers and non-optical adaptive aids such as special light fixtures and signatureguides.
Since so many eye diseases can be prevented by early diagnosis, eye doctors suggest a routine annual eye exam for all ages. Your awareness can lead to blindness prevention.