February is Age-related Macular Degeneration and Low Vision Awareness Month! Unless you or someone you know is struggling with AMD, likely, you don't know what it is. For a common eye disease that affects over 100 million people around the world, few people are actually aware of it!
February is also the month of Valentine’s Day which means showing extra love to those we care about! It's a great opportunity to confront and address this global problem while pushing our friends and family to discuss the reality of vision loss so they can prevent it!
What is AMD?
AMD stands for Age-related Macular Degeneration. This eye condition attacks the macula, the most sensitive part of the retina, causing irreversible vision loss.
The macula is a part of the retina that is responsible for clear, sharp vision. It has a strong concentration of about 200 million photoreceptor cells that help the eye detect light and see colors brightly.
When the macula starts to wear down, clear vision is affected. Individuals might develop a blurry spot at the center of their vision. This spot might spread or turn gray. In other instances, other black spots might develop.
As the name suggests, AMD is most common in those over 50 years old. But it's not just age that raises your chances of getting the disease.
Some things that are linked to AMD are out of your control, like the genes that your parents passed down to you. Others, like smoking, diet, or high blood pressure, are things you can do something about.
Approximately 11 million individuals are affected with AMD in the United States (U.S.) alone, with a global prevalence of 170 million. AMD is thereby the leading cause of visual disability in the industrialized world and the third leading cause globally [1–3]
The eyesight of people with this condition worsens with increased degeneration. AMD doesn't make a person blind; however, it causes low vision that leaves them unable to carry out their daily activities.
AMD is irreversible and has no cure; however, you can prevent it or slow it down if it is discovered early.
There are three stages of AMD:
- Early AMD
- Intermediate AMD
- Late AMD
Early AMD does not show any noticeable symptoms, and detection in this stage is difficult. However, it can be detected using specific tests.
Intermediate AMD is easier to see because symptoms may show. An eye doctor can detect it by the number of drusen in the eye.
In the late stages of AMD, symptoms are apparent, and it is easily detected by tests.
There are two types of AMD, dry and wet. The dry type is more common, but it usually progresses slowly (over years). The wet type is less common, found in 10-15% of MD cases, but more likely to cause a relatively sudden change in vision resulting in serious vision loss.
How to Know if You Have AMD
It is difficult to know when one has early and immediate AMD because symptoms don't show up early. Only specialized tests can show AMD in these stages. Some tests for detection of AMD include:
- Visual Acuity Test
- Amsler Grid
- Fluorescein angiogram
- Dilated Eye Exam
- Optical Coherence Tomography
What Causes AMD?
Medical experts are not sure exactly what causes AMD, but some factors that may increase your risk of developing it are:
- Poor diet
- High blood pressure
- Blue light exposure
If you are at risk for any of the factors, it's important to visit your eye doctor regularly. But most importantly, do what you can to take care of your eyes daily! This includes eating healthy, exercising, and protecting your eyes from harmful blue light.
AMD And Blue Light
As we age, the protective layers on our retinas diminish, leaving us even more exposed to blue light rays. This exposure can cause AMD, and it can also aggravate it for those who already have it.
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 our lamps.
Whether your goal is to prevent AMD or slow down the progress of the disease for yourself or someone you love, living under eye-safe lighting is one of the most important steps we can take to preserve our sight.