You may have heard of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Maybe you have a loved one who’s just been diagnosed. And if you are like most people, you probably don’t know much about this common eye condition. February is AMD Awareness Month and the perfect time to learn about AMD.
What is AMD?
AMD is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss. It causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina. The macula is the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead.
For some people, AMD progresses so slowly that vision loss does not occur for quite some time. In others, the disease is more advanced, leading to vision loss in one or both eyes. A common symptom of AMD progression is the presence of a blurred area near the center of vision. With time, the blurred area may grow or you may acquire blank spots in your central vision. Objects may also appear to not be as bright as they once were.
AMD alone does not lead to complete blindness, however the loss of central vision can have a huge impact on simple, everyday activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, write or do close work, like cooking or home repairs.
Who’s at risk?
It’s difficult to notice AMD in its early stages, as it may only affect one eye. This makes it more difficult for someone to notice that their vision is suffering. There are a few different risk factors for AMD:
- Age – those 60 and older are especially at risk
- Smoking – research suggests smoking doubles a person’s risk factor
- Family history – people with a family history of AMD are at a higher risk
- Race – AMD is more common among Caucasians, than African Americans or Hispanics
Do lifestyle choices make a difference?
Researches have found several links between AMD and several lifestyle choices, like smoking for instance. You might be able to reduce your risk of AMD or slow its progression by making the following healthy choices:
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Eat a diet rich in dark leafy greens and fish
How is AMD detected?
Typically, the early and intermediate stages of AMD start without any symptoms. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD. Call Illinois Eye Center today to schedule an appointment at (309) 243-2400.