February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month! The aim of this month is to educate patients about macular degeneration, as well as promote awareness, share resources, and encourage comprehensive vision examinations.
What is macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among Americans age 50 and older. It is also known as macular degeneration, AMD, or ARMD.
The macula is the small, central area of the retina responsible for visual acuity, or seeing clearly. In macular degeneration, this region is damaged, resulting in blurry, distorted vision.
Age-related macular degeneration can occur in two forms: wet (neovascular) and dry (non-neovascular). Dry AMD is the most common form, affecting roughly 85 to 90 percent of people with AMD diagnoses. In 10 percent of cases, dry AMD will progress into wet AMD, a more severe form of the condition.
What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is painless, and many of its early symptoms are subtle. Because of this, it’s essential to receive regular eye examinations and speak to your doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
Symptoms of macular degeneration include:
• Straight lines appear wavy, blurry, or missing
• Difficulty seeing in dim light
• Trouble seeing in the center of your vision
• Changes in color vision
It is possible for your doctor to detect signs of macular degeneration before symptoms emerge with a retinal exam.
What are the risk factors for macular degeneration?
There are a number of risk factors associated with macular degeneration including family history, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and lighter eye color. Women are more likely to develop AMD than men, and white people are at a greater risk than people of other races.
AMD is also more likely to affect older adults. In the United States, roughly 7 percent of people over the age of 40 have some degree of macular degeneration. This prevalence increases to 12.5 percent of people older than 60, and 33 percent of people older than 80.
What are resources for people with AMD?
If you are currently living with macular degeneration, our staff at Ophthalmology Associates can direct you towards helpful resources and education materials. Here are some examples!
List of prescription assistance programs for patients in treatment for macular degeneration.
Rides in Sight
National nonprofit transportation system for older adults.
The Seeing Eye
Program that matches specially bred and trained guide dogs with legally blind U.S. and Canadian citizens.
Service that helps people understand the benefits available to them in federal, state, and local programs.
Prevent Blindness America
Nonprofit organization that promotes community services and public education about eye care, safety, and eye diseases.
Do you have any questions or concerns about you or a loved one’s vision? Contact us today to set up an eye care appointment with our expert staff!