Age-related macular degeneration, also called AMD, is a progressive eye disease that causes your straight-ahead vision to become blurry. It’s especially noticeable when you’re reading, driving, looking at pictures, or recognizing people’s faces. Since this is the part of the eye that helps you see fine details right in front of you, AMD can make everyday activities difficult.
AMD happens because the macula, the most light-sensitive area of the retina, becomes damaged and starts to deteriorate. People with this condition often still have their peripheral, or side to side vision, so they may not notice just how much their eyesight is affected. There are two types of age-related macular degeneration: dry AMD and wet AMD.
Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration. The more common of the two, it causes the light-sensitive cells of the macula to slowly break down, causing your straight-on vision to seem blurry. You might notice fine details don’t look as sharp, especially the subtle nuances of someone’s facial expressions. In some people the condition comes on so gradually, and without any symptoms, that it’s barely noticeable. But it can also advance and turn into the more serious wet form.
Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration occurs when extra blood vessels grow under the retina and leak fluid. It’s less common, but more serious as it can lead to total vision loss. Wet age-related macular degeneration symptoms usually come on suddenly with blind spots and especially distorted vision. A straight door frame can look like it’s crooked. Statistically, it’s the leading cause of blindness in the US for people over 65**.
Age: Almost all cases occur in people over age 60+.
Race: Caucasians get it more often than Hispanics or African Americans.
Smoking: Doubles your chances of getting AMD.
Genetics: People with a family history of AMD are more likely to be diagnosed.
A healthy, active lifestyle promotes healthy vision and may reduce your risk of getting AMD. Some key personal eye care tips to think about are:
Avoid smoking, which reduces circulation in the eyes. Exercise regularly to promote good vascular function. Eat a healthy diet, especially salmon, for omega 3, and leafy greens for vitamins C, E and lutein. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the penetrating damage of UV and HEV rays.
Today, as many as 11 million people in the United States have some stage of age-related macular degeneration. With the baby boomer population aging, there will be twice as many cases by 2050. People in their 50’s have a 2% chance of getting it, and for those over 75, the risk rises to 30%+. The best line of defense is getting your yearly comprehensive eye exam* to detect early AMD symptoms.
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