Age-Related Macular Degeneration also known as ARMD is a leading cause of legal blindness for people over 60 years old and affects approximately 15 million Americans. Of the 15 million, 1.7 million people experience serious visual impairment. It is estimated by the U.S. government that by 2020, 3 million Americans could be functionally blinded by ARMD.
ARMD does not just affect those who are over 60 years of age, early onset macular degeneration is a genetic disease that can set in somewhere between birth and age 7. Middle-onset macular degeneration can set in between ages 5 to 20. People in their 30’s and 40’s can also have an inherited form of this disease.
Myopic macular degeneration can occur in people who are severely nearsighted; this is due to the elongation of the eyeball. If the retina is stretched it can result in tears in the macula and even bleeding beneath the retina.
As we turn the calendar to February, the brutal winter continues to pummel our friends and families in the North, while we enjoy the warmth and sunshine down here in Florida. For many Americans, and many of my patients, life can be difficult due to Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Millions of Americans are affected with approximately 200,000 new cases of AMD being diagnosed every year. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in this country; however, the majority of patients with AMD never go blind. AMD affects the macula, the area of the retina that is responsible for sharp, central vision. Symptoms may include a change a vision or new waviness to what should be straight lines. Smoking is the only known risk factor that we can modify ourselves. Other factors such as race and family history are out of our control. In patients with AMD, retina specialists recommend eye vitamins with the label AREDS 2 (which stands for Age Related Eye Disease Study 2). It is important to have regular dilated eye exams to check for AMD and imperative if you experience any of the above symptoms. Early detection can mean the difference between saving vision and losing vision.
It’s Age Related Macular Degeneration & Low Vision Awareness Month. The Rand Eye Institute would like to make sure that everyone stays up to date with the risks that come with age and your eyes. Stay tuned for more information about this month’s topic.