February: Low Vision Awareness Month

Early detection and today’s treatments for common eye disease among seniors can help stop vision loss

 

Oklahoma Academy of Ophthalmology Advises That Blindness due to Age-Related Macular Degeneration Should Not be Considered an Inevitability


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may be the leading cause of new cases of blindness in Americans age 65 and older, but seniors who develop AMD should not consider blindness in advanced age to be inevitable. During AMD Awareness Month, Ophthalmologists across Oklahoma are advising seniors that regular eye exams along with today’s treatments for AMD – if provided early enough – can help prevent unnecessary vision loss.

AMD, which affects an estimated 118,000 people in Oklahoma, is the deterioration of the eye’s macula – the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye that is responsible for central vision, the ability to see fine details clearly.

AMD has two forms – wet and dry. While dry AMD leads to a gradual loss of vision, wet AMD leads to faster vision loss and is the most advanced form of the disease. Wet AMD is responsible for 80 to 90 percent of all AMD-related blindness. As AMD is not commonly detected in patients until they begin to suffer vision loss, it is critical to understand the importance of routine eye exams. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that by age 65, seniors should get eye exams every one to two years, or as recommended by their ophthalmologist.

As its name indicates, AMD is an age-related eye disease and increasing age is its main risk factor, followed by ethnicity, family history and smoking. Although smoking doubles the risk of AMD, one study found that cessation of smoking is associated with a reduced risk of AMD. 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dry AMD, nutrient supplements have been proven beneficial in lowering the risk of developing wet AMD. For those who have the wet form of AMD, treatments are available and include anti-VEGF injections that are administered directly into the eye, thermal laser therapy, or photodynamic therapy which involves a light-activated injected drug in combination with a low-power laser. 

Low vision can be a concern for many individuals, but tools, techniques and resources are available to help people with low vision continue their activities. The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® public education website includes tips for low vision aids and rehabilitation

For more information about risk factors and treatments available for AMD, be sure to visit www.geteyesmart.org.