Today is World Sight Day!
World Sight Day is celebrated every second Thursday of October. This year's edition will be celebrated on the 8th of October, with the theme: Hope in Sight.
About World Sight Day
According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, 3 out of 4 of the world's population suffers vision impairment. Given the gravity of the situation, the World Health Organization, in collaboration with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, pioneered the celebration of World Sight Day.
Originally inaugurated by the SightFirstCampaign of Lions Club International Foundation in 2000, the day is set aside to create awareness and draw attention to blindness and vision impairment. Currently, over 1 billion people globally have preventable sight impairment or one that has not been addressed.
Low vision can have severe and long-lasting effects on all aspects of someone’s life, including work opportunities and regular day to day activities like driving, reading, and spending time with family.
Reduced eyesight can be caused by several factors, including diseases like diabetes and trachoma, trauma to the eyes, or conditions such as age-related macular degeneration.
Low Vision: Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in most developed countries around the globe. In America alone, AMD is the leading cause of low vision and blindness in Americans aged 50 years and older and affects 1.6 million Americans in total.
AMD manifests by attacking the retina and destroying the cells around it. This, in the long run, causes an impaired vision that could worsen if proper measures are not taken.
Unfortunately, awareness of the disease is still quite low, leaving many people to go undetected until it’s too late. According to the study of Awareness of Age-related Macular Degeneration, it was opined that AMD awareness ranged from 4% to 30%, highest in the USA, while lower than 10% in Japan and Hong Kong (China).
Another study on AMD reveals that 90% of Chinese respondents in Hong Kong have never heard of AMD, and only 0.2% could describe both symptoms and pathophysiology correctly.
The obvious problem now is: not only is the disease prevalent, but most people with low vision aren’t aware of the condition and therefore don’t take proper measures.
Though there is currently no known cure, early detection can help prevent it from deteriorating further.
Signs & Symptoms of Age-related Macular Degeneration
In the early stages, patients may not know that they are suffering from the condition. This is because the signs are almost unnoticeable and could only be detected by eye specialists. That validates the essence of observing routine eye checks for the sake of early discovery of anomalies such as this.
In the later stages, especially when the condition has progressed, the patient will experience:
- Vague vision
- Blind spots
- Difficulty in seeing in the presence of bright lights
- Sight distortion, making it difficult to make sense of words and numbers when reading
Probable Causes of Age-related Macular Degeneration
There is no one specific known cause of Age-related Macular Degeneration due to a lack of efficient research and funding.
However, it is common knowledge that those with a family history of AMD and advancement in age could contribute to AMD development. Other major risk factors that have been identified can also be seen as lifestyle guides on how to possibly prevent AMD at a later age. Although you can’t choose your genetics, you can control factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and inactivity to reduce the risk of Macular Degeneration.
Unknown to many, blue light also aggravates macular degeneration, which is why many choose to use protective glasses and blue light safe lighting to help slow down the progression of MD.
Hope In Sight
As discussed in previous blogs, there are two types of Macular Degeneration – Dry and Wet. Dry MD is the most common form of MD and contributes to more than 80% of the MD cases across the world. Generally thought to be less damaging than “wet” MD, it is caused by the slow drying out of the retina caused when small deposits (called drusen) are formed underneath the retina. Eventually, it causes the macula to become thinner and drier. Wet MDis generally found in 10-15% of MD cases. In this particular case of MD, blood vessels grow under the retina. These blood vessels – called choroidal neovascularization, or CNV) – may bleed or leak fluid, displacing the macula’s position, eventually distorting and destroying vision.
Dry MD causes rapid deterioration and progresses quickly, leading to more vision loss.
“Twenty years ago, wet AMD was a death sentence for your vision."
Says Jayanth Sridhar, MD, an assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Then, in 2005, anti-VEGF drugs broke ground by saving the sight of patients with wet AMD. Although these drugs stabilize or improve vision in the vast majority of patients, they must be injected into the eye on a regular basis. Sridhar says more durable therapies are coming out, as well as treatments that may even cure the disease.
"There’s a lot of hope for people with AMD.” Sridhar says.
Several promising treatments are also currently in clinical trials for Dry AMD, like stem cell therapies that may be able to replace the retinal cells that are killed off by this disease, as well as various injected drugs that slow the disease by saving retinal cells from destruction.
Dr. Lite's Technology
Like with any other disease, early detection is the best prevention, and lifestyle changes can help prevent the condition from deteriorating.
Dr. Lite is the first and only company to offer a medical-grade, doctor-recommended line of products designed to keep eyes healthy and prevent damage caused by harmful blue light exposure. Clients around the world who experience macular degeneration symptoms have seen a drastic improvement in their visual acuity, contrast, and mobility with the help of Dr. Lite Lamps.
With the help of Dr. Lite's line of products, patients with visual deficiencies find it easier to read, do crafts, perform regular tasks, and enjoy time with their families.