This month is dedicated to increasing awareness of macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision. AMD is the number one source of blindness for seniors. AMD often results in low vision, a term eye doctors use to describe major visual impairment that is also called “legal blindness” or almost total blindness. For those with AMD, a progressive eye disease, damage occurs to the macula, the part of the retina which produces sharp central vision. AMD causes a blurring of central vision, but usually doesn’t affect peripheral vision.
Vision Impairment from age-related macular degeneration usually comes on gradually and painlessly over time but on occasion disruptions in vision can be sudden. Early symptoms of vision loss from AMD include blurred areas in your central vision or unusually distorted sight. While there is currently no cure for AMD, early diagnosis and attention is known to halt advancement of the degeneration and therefore thwart low vision. For those who have already suffered from vision impairment, low-vision rehabilitation and aids can help.
Those at higher risk of AMD include senior citizens, females, Caucasians and individuals with blue eyes, severe hyperopia (farsightedness) or a genetic disposition. Risk factors that can be minimized include smoking, hypertension, exposure to ultraviolet light and obesity. Paying attention to overall physical health and a proper diet has been shown to be preventative.
Individuals who suffer from low vision should speak to an optometrist at Fairview Eye Center or Frisco Eye Care about low vision rehabilitation and specialized equipment that can facilitate self-sufficiency. After an extensive eye exam, a low vision professional can prescribe helpful low vision aids such as reading telescopes and non-optical adaptive devices such as special light fixtures and signatureguides.