Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Low-Vision Awareness
February Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) / Low-Vision Awareness Month
What is Macular Degeneration?
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a relatively common eye condition. It is the leading cause of vision loss in adults 55 and over. It affects more than 10 million Americans – more than both glaucoma and cataracts combined.
Some people experience gradual vision loss over a long time, while others have a progressive form of the disease, which can cause loss of vision in one eye or both. As the disease progresses, objects appear dimmer and dark spots may develop in the central field of vision.
Who’s at risk?
While age is a significant factor in developing AMD, there are some additional risk factors.
- Race – AMD is more frequently diagnosed in Caucasians than Hispanics/Latinos or African Americans.
- Family History/Genetics – If someone has a family history of AMD, they are at higher risk for developing this degenerative disease. Researcher has identified approximately 20 genes that may influence the development of AMD; however, many more genetic markers are suspected. There are no genetic tests that can predict with 100% certainty who will develop AMD.
- Smoking – Smoking more than doubles your risk of developing AMD.
It is caused by a deterioration of the Macula (the central part of the retina), which is the inside back layer of your eye. The macula is also responsible for our ability to drive a car, read, see fine detail, and recognize faces and colors.
Much like camera film, the macula is a light- sensitive area that collects highly detailed images. Those images are then sent to, and processed by, the brain. When the macula starts to deteriorate, the images fail to process correctly.
As deterioration continues, people may experience blurred or wavy vision and if it continues, the entire central vision field may be lost. People that suffer from advanced macular degeneration may be considered legally blind.
Currently, Macular Degeneration is incurable.
While the causes of macular degeneration are not clearly understood. Age-related reasons are a combination of both hereditary and environmental influences.
The disease is most prevalent in people over the age of 55. Prevention of environmental influences is one way of reducing your risk. As environmental influences to AMD appear to be cumulative, protection and prevention should begin as early as possible. Ask the knowledgeable folks at Goodrich Optical what can be done to protect your precious eyesight
Scientists are working hard to better understand this disease. Without further advancement, it is estimated that by 2050, nearly 22 million Americans will suffer from macular degeneration.