Working to Limit Sight Loss in Seniors from Macular Degeneration
Do you believe in love at first sight? In February, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, we also observe Macular Degeneration Awareness Month. We’re thinking about a condition that is the leading cause of blindness for people in the United States over 55: Age-Related Macular Degeneration, or AMD. At ICON Eyecare, a leading provider of LASIK eye surgery and cataract surgery in Colorado, we know that your sight is precious, and we want to help manage this all-too-common condition.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Simply, the macula is an area at the center of the retina, the part of your eye that translates light to nerve impulses for your vision. There are two forms of macular degeneration. In the “dry” form, experienced by about 80 percent of AMD patients, the macula degenerates and the patient can lose the central part of their sight. In the “wet” form, blood vessels under the retina leak, producing basically the same visual effect. People lose the central part of their vision, leaving them with only peripheral vision. Because of the way the retina works, they also lose their fine vision, making it difficult to see small objects and to read.
How Do You Know You Have AMD?
In addition to age, risk factors for AMD include smoking, obesity, hypertension, and a family history of AMD, especially in seniors. Usually it’s the dry form, but hypertension is associated with the wet form, with blood vessel problems. Symptoms can include:
- Seeing wavy lines that should be straight
- Other distorted vision
- Blurred vision, especially noticeable on the printed page
- Being unable to see in dim light
- Being sensitive to glare
- Seeing spots
Treatment for AMD
Risk reduction is part of managing AMD and even helping to head it off. Staying active with regular exercise can help reduce your risk of AMD, and healthy nutrition helps including Omega-3 and Omega-6 sources like fish, and green leafy vegetables that protect themselves with lutein can offer that protection to your eyes as well. Lowering key risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure can make a big difference in your risk. Most importantly, regular eye exams help catch AMD early and get treatment started if needed, essential since it is a progressive condition. For wet AMD, the less common kind, laser treatments and medications can help. For dry AMD, treatments are limited, currently a specific vitamin regimen is used including antioxidants and zinc.
Managing AMD Means Learning to Live with AMD
Our staff at ICON Eyecare have lots of resources for people, including AMD patients, who may be experiencing loss of sight. We can help you with strategies to use your peripheral vision more effectively and improve the lighting in your home, along with a wide variety of tools and new habits. Give us a call and let us help you protect your vision.