February isn’t just for love letters and Valentines, it is also National AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss among older Americans. It affects approximately 15 million Americans over the age of 50.

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a loss of central vision. Central vision is required to see straightforward and only accounts for three degrees of your visual field. It is important for performing activities that require fine, clear vision (e.g., reading, writing, driving). It also helps estimate distances and recognize faces. When the light-sensing tissue (macula) at the center of your retina begins to deteriorate, you are at risk of losing part of your vision. Because this disease is slow and painless, you may not realize there is an issue until your vision is compromised.

Types of macular degeneration
Both of these types of macular degeneration obscure or cloud your central vision, making it harder to see the world around you. However, there are techniques and tools available to help you learn how to live a full life with AMD.

Dry
This is an early stage of the disease and occurs when small white or yellow deposits, called drusen, begin to form on the retina just below the macula.

Wet
As the disease progresses into wet macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels begin to grow under the retina toward the macula.

Common risk factors

The exact cause of macular degeneration is unknown, however there are a few risk factors that may contribute to this disease.

  • Use of tobacco products
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Uncontrolled hypertension
  • Family history
  • Adults over 50 years old

Treatments

There is not a cure for age-related macular degeneration, but treatment may halt or delay its progression. Wet AMD cases may improve with FDA-approved medicinal treatments. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent dry AMD or reduce its risk of progression.

If you suffer from AMD/low vision or other eye issues, turn to the experienced ophthalmologists and eye surgeons at Evergreen Eye Center. We have over twenty years experience employing innovative treatments with excellent outcomes.