February Is National Age-Related Macular Degeneration Month
It’s not uncommon for patients to experience difficulties performing certain tasks due to decreasing visual acuity as they get older. In many cases, this is caused by a condition known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Although many patients experience less severe forms of AMD, the condition can sometimes lead to permanent vision loss, especially if not caught early on.
AMD happens because our retinal tissue degenerates over time. When this happens in the macula, which is the center of the retina, the photoreceptor cells of the macula begin to cease in function and eventually die, ultimately disrupting vision and, in some severe cases, leading to permanent vision loss. February is National Age-Related Macular Degeneration Month, which affords us an opportunity to educate people about what they need to know about this condition. Being knowledgeable about AMD improves your chances of identifying the signs early on, getting a diagnosis, and coming up with a treatment plan that fits your specific case.
The AMD Symptoms To Be Aware Of
The most commonly reported symptoms of AMD include:
- Visual distortions, such as straight lines appearing broken or zigzagged
- Blurriness close to your central field of vision
- Diminished night vision or difficulties seeing in low-light scenarios
- Colors appearing dull
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important not to dismiss them and to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. If you have AMD, the sooner you can get a diagnosis, the more likely you will be able to preserve your vision.
Risk Factors for Developing AMD
As the name says, age is the most prominent risk factor for developing AMD. Patients over the age of 50 need to be particularly alert to any changes in their vision. AMD is also more likely to happen to people of Caucasian descent, as well as people with less pigment in their irises (i.e., green eyes, blue eyes, etc.). Other risk factors include having uncontrolled underlying conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, obesity, and lifestyle factors such as smoking or poor eating habits.
How to Preserve Your Vision With AMD
Whether or not you have been diagnosed with AMD, there are certain things that you should do that can help you preserve your vision. Many of these things are good for your overall health and are recommended regardless of whether or not you have AMD:
- Consuming foods that are good for your eye health, such as leafy greens, fruits, foods that are high in fiber, and oily fish
- Avoiding or limiting your consumption of processed foods, high amounts of sugars and trans fats, and excessive alcohol
- Taking vitamins that are good for your eyes, such as vitamins E and C; be sure to discuss with your doctor before starting any vitamin regimen
- Engaging in moderate physical activity on a daily basis; simply walking, dancing, or doing yoga can make a big difference in your overall health
- Protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses and/or hats when outside, even on overcast days
- Scheduling annual eye exams
For advanced diagnostic care and management for AMD in Long Island and Queens, NY, contact Vitreoretinal Consultants of NY today.