February is dedicated to spreading awareness of macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the foremost cause of visual impairment for individuals age 65 and over. AMD can result in low vision, a phrase eye care professionals use to categorize significant vision loss that is sometimes called “legal blindness” or almost total blindness. In the case of macular degeneration, a degenerative eye disease, damage occurs to the macula, the part of the retina which is responsible for clear vision in the central visual field. The disease causes a blurring of the central vision zone, but typically leaves peripheral vision intact.
Vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration is usually gradual but occasionally disruptions in vision can drastically appear seemingly overnight. Early signs of low vision from AMD include shadowy areas in your central vision or very fuzzy vision. Although there is currently no cure for AMD, early detection and attention is known to halt progression of the disease and therefore thwart low vision. For individuals who have already lost acuity, low-vision rehabilitation and aids can help.
Those with greater risk factors of AMD include individuals over 65, women, Caucasians and people with blue eye color, severe farsightedness or a genetic disposition. Controllable risk factors include smoking, hypertension, exposure to ultraviolet light and inactivity. Paying attention to overall physical health and a proper diet has been determined to be preventative.
Those who suffer from low vision should speak to their eye doctor about low vision training and special equipment that can facilitate a return to favorite activities. After an extensive assessment, a low vision expert can help you obtain appropriate low vision aids such as magnifiers and non-optical adaptive aids such as electronic ''talking'' clocks and large-face printed material.
While macular degeneration is more likely in seniors, it can affect anyone and therefore it is recommended for everyone to have a regular eye exam to determine eye health and discuss preventative measures for AMD and low vision.