February is National AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month. Although this isn’t as publicized as any of the other February celebrations like Black History Month or American Heart Month, AMD and Low Vision are the leading causes of vision loss that affect nearly 15 million adults over the age of 50. Both are extremely debilitating and the exact causes are unknown. AMD, also known as Age-Related Macular degeneration, develops extremely slowly—almost so slowly that you won’t know what is happening until it is too late. This disease destroys the central vision, controlled by a spot at the back of the retina called the macula—sharp central vision is needed to read, drive, watch TV, and perform other daily activities and tasks, so this disease makes it really difficult to live a normal life. For just a few of the risk factors of AMD, here are some things to watch out for and cut out of one’s lifestyle to help reduce the risk for AMD, as well as heart disease and stroke.
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Exposure to Sunlight
Though most of these risk factors can be controlled, there are some that cannot be helped, including the following:
- Severe Farsightedness
- AMD in one eye
If you think you may be at risk for AMD, here are a few symptoms. If you notice any of these symptoms, you will need to visit an ophthalmologist as soon as physically possible for an evaluation. Some of the symptoms include:
- Straight lines appearing wavy
- Dark spots blocking your vision
- Inability to see details
- Colors seem less bright
During the month, people strive to increase awareness about AMD and low vision and educating the general public about the symptoms and how to prevent them. One of the ways eye health professionals increase awareness is by encouraging people, especially those with the risk factors or symptoms, to have a health diagnostic screening: specifically, to see their ophthalmologist and have a low vision examination which will help determine what is wrong with one’s eyes and what can be done to help, like low vision therapies.
For more information on AMD and low vision awareness, visit Prevent Blindness America and Health Wellmobile for the services they offer in Kansas City.