Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. This February, it’s time to critically assess your eyesight. Do have fuzzy, blurry or shadowy vision? Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to find out if AMD is affecting you, before the condition progresses and inflicts irreversible damage.
What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is when the central portion of your eye’s retina, the macula, starts to deteriorate. The macula is responsible for translating the minute details – it helps you read, recognize people’s faces, watch television and drive. When you have AMD, all of those details are blurred into obstructive, dark blind spots. It’s possible for AMD to cause complete vision loss.
There are two forms of the condition: wet and dry. Dry AMD is the most common form. It’s also less serious. Dry AMD progresses slowly and is caused by drusen (deteriorated tissue) deposits that form in the macula and lead to central vision loss. Wet AMD is when dry AMD progresses to a later stage and blood vessels begin to grow beneath the eye’s retina, leaking blood and fluid that permanently damages nearby retinal cells.
Are You at Risk?
The risk of developing AMD increases with age. There is also a genetic link – if it runs in your family, you’re more likely to develop the condition yourself. Obesity, inactivity, smoking and having a lighter eye color are also risk factors.
What Can Your Eye Doctor Tell You?
Your doctor will use a variety of tests before making a diagnosis. A visual acuity test will determine your ability to see at various distances. A dilated eye exam will allow your eye doctor to check the back of your eye.
These tests are important because in its earliest stages, you may not notice any changes in vision at all. At a regular eye doctor visit, your eye care professional may spot small drusen deposits and retinal pigment changes that indicate AMD.
What Can You Do?
At this time, there is no cure for AMD, but there are steps you can take to slow its progression. If you’ve been diagnosed with AMD in an early or intermediate stage, your eye doctor will recommend a number of lifestyle changes designed to improve eye health.
They will instruct you to quit smoking, begin exercising and losing weight and integrating healthy foods into your diet. They will also suggest that you protect your eyes from ultraviolet light.
The advanced stage of AMD can be treated with medication – talk to your eye doctor about your options.
You Need Regular Eye Care
Don’t have the current vision coverage you need? It’s time to make a change. Eye health is a big part of whole-body wellness. Talk to the team at My Senior Health Plan and learn more about your insurance plan options.