“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…” – Joni Mitchell
Often in life, we don’t appreciate some of the best things until they’re gone. When we are young, we don’t really consider the possibility of losing things that we’ve always had, and we are too wrapped up in the busyness of life to give much thought to things like disease prevention. However, as we age, many things that we once took for granted, like vision, might begin to diminish, leaving us with new challenges and concerns we never thought we’d face. For people who have developed Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), things that once seemed to be a given in life, like driving, reading, or recognizing faces, now become increasing daily struggles. For AMD Awareness Month, we want to shine a light on the ins and outs of this degenerative vision disease, as well as on the steps you can take to prevent this from happening to you!
What is AMD?
According to the Bright Focus Foundation, Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in people aged 60 and older. This degenerative eye disease occurs when the eye’s macula begins to break down or erode. The macula, which contains the largest concentration of cones, or light-sensitive cells, is located in the center of the retina. The macula is responsible for your central vision, and your ability to distinguish fine details. For tasks such as reading fine print, reading street signs, and focusing on small details, your macula is behind it all!
Macular degeneration exists in two forms—dry and wet.
Dry Macular Degeneration
Dry macular degeneration makes up about 85 to 90 percent of all AMD cases. In this case, yellow protein deposits, known as drusen, build up underneath the retina, and lead to deterioration of the macula over time. It is not uncommon for older individuals to have drusen deposits in their eyes, but larger, more frequent deposits are one of the first triggers of macular degeneration.
Signs & Symptoms
Wet Macular Degeneration
According to the Bright Focus Foundation, wet macular degeneration accounts for about 10 percent of AMD cases, but results in 90 percent of legal blindness cases. Of the two types of AMD, the wet macular degeneration is definitely more severe, and considered to be advanced. In wet macular degeneration, abnormal blood vessels form and grow behind the macula, typically near drusen deposits. These blood vessels are very fragile, and often leak blood and fluid, which causes the macula to scar. In a matter of weeks, or even days, the individual’s central vision can become altered, or disappear completely.
Signs & Symptoms
The exact causes of AMD are not fully known, but medical experts are able to pinpoint the following risk factors:
Although there are some risk factors, such as genetics and family history, that you simply cannot control, there are prevention methods that you can take to help not only your eye health, but your overall health as well!
Don’t take your vision for granted! Protect your gift of sight for as long as possible with the steps above, and spread the word about AMD to your friends, loved ones, and colleagues!
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Author: Michelle Adams