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Eye Health: February Is AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month

February 12, 2013

What is age-related macular degeneration and how does it cause low vision?

This Valentine’s Day, many couples around the world will be surprising their significant others with romantic gestures and gifts that show just how much they truly care. Whether you and your loved one have been together for 10 years, 5 years or this is your very first Valentine’s Day together as a couple, this romantic holiday is a great way for you to visualize your love for one another.

However, for elderly couples who are over the age of 60, you may find that your significant others grand, romantic gesture of diamonds may not be sparkling as clearly and brightly this Valentine’s Day.

By the age of 65, one in three people will typically suffer from some form of vision-reducing eye disease. In fact, millions of people all across the world are currently visually impaired or legally blind due to the damaging effects of low vision.

To help ensure that everyone is seeing love clearly this Valentine’s Day, and all year long, February has been named AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month to help spread the word about age-related macular degeneration and the ways in which it can cause low vision in people over the age of 60.

Different Forms of AMD

Age-related macular degeneration occurs when the macular―the central portion of the retina―becomes severely damaged. However, while AMD is only one disease, it can actually take two separate forms: dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration.

Dry Macular Degeneration (Non-Neovascular): This is the most common form of AMD which results from the aging and thinning of macular tissues, depositing of pigment within the macular or even a combination of the two. Typically the earliest stage of the disease, symptoms of dry macular degeneration usually develop gradually and could affect one or both eyes. If only one eye is affected, you may not notice a lot of change in your vision at first, as your strong eye compensates for the weak one.

Wet Macular Degeneration (Neovascular): This form of AMD is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision. It is typically caused by leaking blood vessels which can affect the macula and cause severe swelling. In most cases, wet macular degeneration begins as dry macular degeneration. However, it is not clear as to what causes this transformation to develop.

Onset Of Low Vision

One of the most common side effects of age-related macular degeneration is low vision―a term commonly used to describe partial sight, or sight that cannot simply be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. The severity of vision loss that comes with low vision can vary in different people. For instance, some people may only experience moderate vision loss while others may lose their vision all together.

While low vision can occur at any stage of life, it mostly affects elderly individuals or those who suffer from eye diseases such as AMD. Luckily, when this vision impairment is recognized early, it can be treated effectively and allow people to maintain as much of their vision and daily activity levels as possible.

Don’t let your loved one’s gestures go unseen this Valentine’s Day. Contact OCLI to set up your comprehensive vision screening for AMD and low vision.


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