February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is a disease that affects the central part of vision (i.e., the macula) resulting in blurriness, distortion, changes in color/light perception and, ultimately, loss of vision. Peripheral vision is not affected. Vision loss often goes undetected, as these changes are usually gradual and affect one eye at a time. Nonetheless, ARMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 50 years of age, currently affecting over 1.8 million individuals in the United States.
Risk factors for ARMD include the following:
- Caucasian ethnicity
- Female gender
- Family history of ARMD
Currently, vision loss as a result of ARMD can not be recovered, but treatment such as supplements, laser, or injections can be administered to prevent additional loss of vision. Lifestyle changes that can make a big difference in terms of disease prevention and stopping progression include quitting smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and eating a diet abundant in green, leafy vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids.
Common issues faced by people with ARMD include difficulty recognizing faces, spotting signs and objects while driving, or performing near activities such as reading, writing, or cooking. Low vision devices and training can be used to dramatically improve these and other activities of daily living.
If you are at risk for developing ARMD, it is crucial that you receive an annual eye exam including dilation. If you have ARMD, it is even more important that you receive regular monitoring of your condition, as only proper treatment and management can prevent additional vision loss. A multidisciplinary team consisting of a low vision optometrist, a retinal ophthalmologist, an occupational therapist, and orientation and mobility specialists can provide you the best possible outcomes and maximize your independence.
If you are an eye care provider and have patients who have been diagnosed with ARMD, please consider referring them to a new study that can compensate them for their time.
Steven Wang, OD
OCOS Public Relations