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Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the Silent Disease that Causes Loss of Sight E-mail
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Roughly 200,000 cases of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) get diagnosed each year. Age-related macular degeneration is the number one cause of vision loss in adults ages 60 and older. It affects the macula, the section of the eye that focuses on fine detail. As a result, AMD causes the loss of sharp, central vision which is necessary for normal, daily tasks such as reading and driving. This disease although it affects both sexes, it affects women more often than men, according to several large studies conducted by the Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia.

Risk Factors 

Age is the greatest risk factor for AMD.  Aside from age other risk factors include:

  • Gender (AMD affects women more than men; women live longer)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Family history 
  • Race (Caucasian adults are more likely to lose vision from AMD than African Americans).

The Silent Disease

AMD can sneak up on people because it can progress gradually, and does not involve pain. Because of these factors AMD can progress without being noticed until its too late, and can result in visual impairment in both eyes. That is why it is so important to get regular eye exams.

Early Detection is the Key 

Early detection can slow the loss of vision.

Treatment Options

Treatment options include:

  • Drugs,
  • Laser therapies,
  • Vitamins and
  • Vision-assisting devices.

Thanks to technology there are many new treatments on the horizon. These include:

  • Anti-VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) drugs. Anti-VEGF drugs are designed to hinder new blood vessel formation, the cause of one type of AMD, and require regular injections into the eye. The newer drugs work by destroying strands of messenger RNA, which is responsible for producing harmful proteins. They require fewer injections.
  • Newer drugs, including small interfering RNA. Aimed at reducing the frequency of intravitreal injection of the older drugs.

Warning Signs

There are also warning signs associated with AMD. If you experience any of the following vision symptoms, contact an eye care specialist:

  • Lines or edges that appear wavy or distorted;
  • Blurry faces or difficulty seeing colors;
  • Dark or empty spaces that block the center of your vision;
  • Difficulty reading fine print or reading road signs from a moving vehicle; or
  • Difficulty seeing at a distance or during twilight hours.

Prevention

AMD can be diagnosed at a routine eye exam.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years for seniors over the age of 65, and every two to four years for adults between forty and 65.

Your ophthalmologist can also give you a special chart called an Amsler Grid that you can take home with you and use to detect early trouble.

If AMD runs in your family, you may want to speak to an eye specialist about appropriate screening measures.

 

 
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