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Home » What's New » The Aging Eye: Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

The Aging Eye: Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)


We all know why we need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen in the summer. Winter, however, can be deceiving. It's an illusion to assume that we are safe from sunburns during the colder season.

Snow acts as a powerful mirror for sunlight and magnifies the effects of UV rays which would otherwise be absorbed by the ground. As a result, the eyes are exposed to both the UV radiation bouncing back from the snowy carpet and the rays shining down directly from the sun.

If your family is skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, you need to be even more careful! UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes. Another important factor to remember is that ultraviolet radiation penetrates through clouds, so even if the sun is hidden behind them, it can still damage your eyes.

Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet radiation when you go outside, no matter what time of year it is. Even though you want to look great in your shades, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Make sure the lenses are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. The good news is you don't necessarily have to pay more for full coverage for your eyes. Dozens of reasonably priced options exist that still provide total ultraviolet protection.

Another important factor in selecting sun wear is the size of the lenses. You want to make sure your glasses cover as much of the area around your eyes as possible. The more coverage you have, the less harmful radiation will be able to penetrate. Lenses that wrap around the temples will also prevent UV waves from entering from the sides.

If you like to ski or frolic in the snowy hills, you should be aware that the sun's rays are stronger at higher elevations, so you need to be especially careful to keep your eyes shaded on the slopes. In addition to sunglasses, it's a good idea to put on a wide brimmed hat that covers your eyes.

Make a point to be knowledgeable about proper eye protection throughout the year. Don't forget to wear your sunglasses.

February is age related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision recognition month.

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the primary causes of vision loss in individuals aged 65 and over. AMD is a condition that causes a breakdown of the macula in the eye which functions to allow sharp vision in the center of your field of view.

Age Related Macular Degeneration Symptoms

Early signs of AMD are usually distorted eyesight and dark spots in the center of vision. Since the loss of vision typically happens at a slow pace and painlessly, signs are sometimes not observed until the disease has progressed. This is why every individual over 65 years of age should be sure to schedule a comprehensive eye examination on a regular basis.

Risk Factors for Age Related Macular Degeneration

A number of risk factors have been determined including Caucasian race, age (over 65), being a smoker, eating an unhealthy diet and family history. Anyone that possesses these risk factors should be sure to have a yearly eye exam. Learning about proper nutrition with your optometrist can also help lower your chances of vision loss.

Dry Macular Degeneration and Wet Macular Degeneration

In general, AMD is typically categorized as either dry or wet. The dry form is more commonplace and is thought to be caused by advanced age and macular tissue thinning or pigment build-up in the macula. The wet form, also known as neovascular age related macular degeneration, is caused from the growth of new blood vessels beneath the retina which leak blood, which destroys the retinal cells and causes blind spots in the central vision. Usually the wet form causes more severe vision loss.

Treatment for AMD

Although there is no cure for AMD, there are treatments that can slow or minimize loss of sight. Depending on whether one has wet or dry AMD the course of treatment may involve dietary supplements, laser surgery or medical injections. In all instances, early detection and treatment is critical. Speak to your optometrist also about devices to help you deal with any loss of sight that has already occurred. Such loss of sight that cannot be corrected by the usual measures such as eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery is known as low vision. There are a number of low vision aids on the market today that can make everyday activities easier.

Learn about the risks and signs of macular degeneration before it's too late. Contact your eye doctor to learn more about AMD and low vision.