February is dedicated to spreading awareness of macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision. AMD is the leading source of visual impairment for senior citizens. Macular degeneration often results in low vision, a phrase eye care professionals use to refer to major visual impairment that cannot be helped by typical treatments such as normal eye glasses, contact lenses, medicine or even eye surgery. For those with AMD, a degenerative eye disease, impairment is caused to the macula, the part of the retina which is responsible for sharp vision in the central visual field. The disease causes a vision loss relating to central vision, but usually doesn’t affect the peripheral visual field.
Vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration is usually progressive but occasionally impairment can be sudden. Early symptoms of low vision from AMD include shadowy areas in your central visual field or unusually fuzzy sight. While there is currently no cure for AMD, early detection and treatment is known to halt progression of the disease and therefore prevent vision loss. For individuals who have already experienced vision loss, low-vision rehabilitation and aids can help.
Those at higher risk of AMD include individuals over 65, females, Caucasians and people with light eye color, severe hyperopia (farsightedness) or a genetic disposition. Controllable risk factors include smoking, hypertension, exposure to ultraviolet light and obesity. Maintaining overall physical health and a proper diet has been determined to be preventative.
Individuals who suffer from low vision should consult with an eye care professional about low vision training and special devices that can facilitate a return to daily activities. After an extensive examination, a low vision expert can help you obtain helpful low vision devices such as reading telescopes and non-optical adaptive aids such as electronic ''talking'' clocks and large-face printed material.
Since so many eye diseases can be treated only by early diagnosis, optometrists suggest a routine annual eye exam for all ages. Your awareness can lead to blindness prevention.