According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans over 50, affecting about 2.1 million people nationwide. Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to preventing vision loss. Eyecare Associates physicians are educating our patients about the facts on AMD.
AMD is a degenerative disease that happens when part of the retina called the macula is damaged. It is the part of the eye that delivers sharp, central vision needed to see objects straight ahead. Over time, the loss of central vision can interfere with everyday activities, such as driving, reading, and seeing faces clearly.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology offers these six steps to help patients take control of their eye health:
- Get regular comprehensive medical eye exams. AMD often has no early warning signs, so getting regular comprehensive eye exams from an eye doctor is critical to diagnosing and treating eye disease in its early stages. We recommend that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40 — the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. By age 65, we recommend getting an exam every year.
- Quit smoking. Numerous studies show smoking increases the risk of developing AMD and the speed at which it progresses. Smokers are twice as likely to develop macular degeneration compared with a nonsmoker.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Many studies demonstrate that eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-packed foods, such as salmon and nuts, may reduce AMD’s risk. Research also suggests that patients who ate fresh fish, an essential source of omega-3s, were at lower risk of developing AMD.
- Exercise regularly. Exercising three times a weekcan reduce the risk of developing wet AMD by 70 percent. Studies also show that physical activity may lower the odds of AMD’s early and late stages.
- Monitor your sight with an Amsler Grid. This simple, daily routinetakes less than one minute and can help people with AMD save more of their vision. Using this grid is essential to finding any vision changes that are not obvious so that you can report them to your eye doctor.
- Know your family’s eye health history. If you have a close relative with AMD, you have a 50 percent greater chance of developing the condition. Before your next eye exam, please speak with your family about their eye health history. You may need more frequent eye exams based on your family history.
If you can’t remember when your last eye exam, we can help you start your new eye exam appointment calendar today! Your eyes will be happier for it.