February is AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month, sponsored by Prevent Blindness America. Affecting part of the back of the eye called the macula, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can cause the center area of your vision to become blurry or wavy. It can also create a blind spot right in the center of your vision.
As the name implies, your risk for AMD increases as you age. Affecting more than two million Americans, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss for Americans age 65 and older. That’s why it’s critical that you get a dilated eye exam every 1-2 years, even if your vision seems perfectly fine. Just like glaucoma, signs of AMD – such as a straight flagpole seeming slightly curved or wavy – may be easy to miss at the beginning.
The cause of AMD is unknown, but risk factors include age, race, smoking, family history, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Diet may also play a role according to the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary. For example, high fat intake (from meats, margarine, dairy products and baked goods) is associated with an increased risk of AMD, while people who eat fish (high in omega-3 fatty acids) more than four times a week have a lower risk of AMD than those who consume it less than three times a month.
Think only seniors have macular degeneration? The data at PatientLikeMe suggests that it’s not just something to think about in your sixties and older. Of the 56 patients who report macular degeneration at PatientsLikeMe, 39 of them (approximately 65%) are under the age of 60. What are they doing to prevent further vision loss? Some of the commonly reported treatments include the prescription drug Avastin as well as dietary supplements such as Zinc and Vitamin E. (Click each treatment name to see how our patients rate the effectiveness, side effects, cost and more.)
Don’t let life get wavy on you. If you’re overdue, have you scheduled your next dilated eye exam?