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How to Lower Your Risk for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Even though more than 10 million Americans experience age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and AMD is the leading cause of vision loss for adults over 50, many individuals are not familiar with the symptoms and possible treatments for AMD.

What Is AMD?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease that affects more people than cataracts and glaucoma combined. It occurs when aging causes damage to the macula, a part of the eye that controls your central vision. The macula is part of the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye). It makes seeing faces, reading, driving or tasks that require sharper focus such as cooking or working with tools, possible.

It’s worth noting that AMD isn’t known to cause complete blindness, or affect the health of the peripheral retina. Peripheral (side) vision usually remains intact.

The progression of the eye disease depends on the individual, and symptoms can go unnoticed for a long time. To counter macular degeneration, yearly eye exams will play an integral role in lowering the risk for the condition, along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

What causes AMD?

Aging may increase your risk of AMD, but other factors can also contribute to the eye condition. These include:

  • A family history of AMD

  • Race – Caucasians or people of European descent have a higher rate of AMD

  • Gender – Females have a higher rate of AMD

  • Smoking – nicotine raises your blood pressure and heart rate, narrows the arteries and hardens their walls, making your blood more likely to clot

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • High cholesterol

  • Obesity

What types of AMD are there?

There are two types of AMD – wet and dry. Wet AMD is the more severe of the two, and occurs when abnormal blood vessels develop under the retina and macula. The blood vessels leak blood and fluid (a condition called “choroidal neovascularization”). That fluid buildup then causes a bulge to form in the macula. Wet AMD sufferers may see dark (blind) spots in the center of the visual field. Wet AMD can be treated with medications if caught early.

Dry AMD (atrophic) is the most common type, and happens when tiny yellow protein deposits, called drusen, form under the macula. The built-up deposits dry and thin the macula. Vision loss from the dry type tends to occur gradually, and people aren’t likely to lose their central vision altogether. Unfortunately, there is no medical treatment for dry AMD.

According to the Macular Society, 10 to 15% of people with dry AMD can develop wet AMD. If you or your loved one experience dry AMD and notice a sudden change in your vision, please contact your eye specialist immediately.

How can I lower my risk for AMD?

For age-related conditions such as AMD, the best method of treatment is prevention. Adopting healthier habits in addition to getting yearly eye exams can help lower the risk for AMD. Consider making lifestyle changes like staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, and avoiding smoking.

How Presidio Home Care Can Help You Manage Your AMD

Whether it’s helping to prepare healthy meals, reminding your loved one to take their blood pressure medication, or motivating them to exercise, our Home Care Aides are ready to work with your loved one’s care team to implement and maintain the appropriate changes necessary to lower their risk for or help manage their AMD. Contact your local office today to learn more.

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