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Celebrate Healthy Aging Month

September is Healthy Aging Month, a moment to celebrate the wonderful journey that is life and raise awareness about maintaining healthy habits, including taking care of our eyes. Lifestyle changes that encourage physical, social, and mental wellbeing can have a positive impact on our outlook on aging. There are some vision challenges that may become apparent in our lives and early detection is key. This month we’ll be focusing on an eye disease that is the leading cause of vision loss--Age-Related Macular Degeneration.



What is AMD?


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that causes blurred or reduced central vision. This is due to thinning of the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for clear vision in your direct line of sight.



Types of AMD


The primary forms are:

  1. Dry Form: This form is the most common and is characterized by the appearance of drusen, tiny proteins that form under the retina. Patients with dry AMD often experience blurry vision, eventually losing central vision over time.

  2. Wet Form: Most people with AMD experience the dry form, but the dry form can develop to the wet form. Wet AMD is caused by abnormal tiny blood vessels that start to grow under the retina. Since they are very fragile, the blood vessels break and leak fluid, which causes severe vision loss. This form develops more rapidly than dry AMD.


Causes


While the specific factors that cause macular degeneration are not conclusively known, we do know that AMD causes are complex and have both hereditary and environmental components.


Some of the large risk factors are:

  • Being 55 years and older

  • Genetics

  • Race (Caucasians are more likely to develop this disease than any other race)

  • Smoking


Prevention & treatment


Unfortunately, there is no known cure for AMD. Certain treatments may be helpful at slowing the progression of the disease, but the best thing you can do is reduce your risk before the disease develops.


Changes you can make are mostly lifestyle-related, but are effective! Things like:

  • Diet (eat those dark, leafy green veggies!)

  • Exercise

  • Avoid Smoking

  • Eye Protection, such as polarized sunglasses

  • Never miss an annual eye exam: technology is always advancing and we now offer state-of-the-art instruments that allows us to look behind your eye as well as the layers of your retina


Age-related macular degeneration isn’t treatable, but it can be detected early. Yearly eye check-ups can help keep track of development. Be sure to tell your doctor if notice any signs of blurry or wavy vision.


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