February is national age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision awareness month. Since AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 50, it is imperative to provide education and awareness about the disease to try to protect people’s vision. With our aging population, preventing unnecessary vision loss is critical.
One of the most problematic facts in regards to AMD is that before most people realize they have a problem with their vision, substantial permanent damage has already occurred. To prevent such a situation from occurring, early detection of AMD is essential to prevent vision loss.
Maintaining a regular comprehensive eye exam schedule is one of the first walls you can erect as a safeguard from AMD. Unfortunately, though, many people do not think about their eyes needing to be thoroughly checked until there is a problem, which is why regular eye exams are a necessity to get across to patients to limit the number of cases of new blindness.
Curious about how it feels to develop AMD? Located at the back of the retina, the macula is responsible for sharp, central vision. Keeping one eye closed, form a fist in front of your open eye. You will have some peripheral vision; however, you will not be able to see through your first. This is essentially how AMD works to cause vision loss. Your central vision is necessary for things such as the ability to see faces, driving and watching television, so if the macula degenerates, vision loss can be devastating to your lifestyle.
There are several risk factors that have been attributed to AMD. Changes to your lifestyle may help slow the damages or reduce your chances at contracting the disease. Smoking has been proven to double the chance of a patient getting AMD. Those who exercise regularly show less instances of AMD, and a healthy diet, including low cholesterol and plenty of leafy greens, is highly recommended.
Early detection of AMD is your best chance at protecting yourself from vision loss, so speak to your eye care professional about including optomap® in your next eye exam.