Take one of your hands and place it directly in front of your eyes. Allow your pinky to barely touch your nose and keep your hand flat with your palm facing in. You should be able to see through your peripheral vision, while your central vision should be obstructed by your hand. This is how people typically see the world when suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The name of the disease leads you to one of the largest risk factors for developing AMD – aging. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over the age of 50. Although aging is unpreventable, there are other risk factors to be knowledgeable about in order to slow the progression of the disease;
- The family history of AMD. Do your research to determine if AMD runs in your family and ask your doctor what your options are. Studies have shown that individuals are 3 to 4 times more likely to develop AMD if someone in their immediate family has AMD.
- Smoking may double your risk of developing AMD.
- A diet high in saturated fat. Although foods such as cheese, butter, and pork may be delicious in the moment, consistently consuming them may cause issues for your vision down the road. Moderation is key.
- Another unpreventable risk factor: race. AMD is developed more often in Caucasians than Hispanics or African-Americans. But don’t count yourself out just yet – anyone could develop the disease at any point in their life. Staying up-to-date with your regular checkups is vital to catching symptoms early.
- Weight. Being overweight could double your chances of AMD.
The earlier you start taking immediate action to mitigate AMD, the better. It is important to note there are no cures for AMD; creating a lifestyle that avoids as many risk factors as possible is your best option to keep your central vision clear for as long as you can. Don’t wait until your vision is blurred to visit your doctor; take control of your vision and lead with this knowledge!
Healthy vision is our number one priority, and eye care education is key.
Age-related macular degeneration takes place when the macula is damaged. A macula is an area in the back of your eye (the retina), responsible for providing sharp, detailed central vision. The macula is crucial for tasks that require attention to details, such as driving and reading.
There are two different types of AMD;
- Dry AMD is the most common form. 8 in 10 people who have AMD have the dry form. Dry AMD occurs as the macula thins with age and drusen, or clumps of protein, grow. Vision loss slowly progresses with dry AMD.
- Wet AMD often facilitates rapid vision loss. This form of AMD is more severe and occurs when irregular blood vessels grow and leak under the retina. The fluid leaked from these vessels scar the macula.
While we encourage you to be cognizant of your eye health, if you or someone you know is struggling with vision loss, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.