Sunday, March 27, 2011

Eye Exams for Macular Degeneration

According to a recent survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation although more than two thirds of Americans 55 years of age or older have had an eye exam to maintain eye health and vision, 80% of those do not know that Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss of people older than 60. Further, even among those who had eye examinations, only 46% could identify the risk factors for AMD and only about 50% could state any one symptom. What is more disturbing is that of the 24 % who claimed to be familiar with Macular Degeneration only about 1/3 were even aware that there were treatment options available for the most severe type-“wet macular degeneration”-if it were diagnosed early enough. Almost all cases of AMD begin as “dry macular degeneration”, but some 10-15% of cases progress to the more sight devastating “wet macular degeneration”. Early detection, diagnosis and treatment depend on regular eye examinations and being aware of symptoms of AMD that may occur and how AMD may occur with Cataracts.
In its early stages, AMD may not cause any noticeable symptoms. As the disease advances, symptoms may occur in one eye or both, and can include blurred vision, difficulty reading or recognizing faces, blind spots developing in the middle of the field of vision, colors becoming hard to distinguish and distortion causing edges or lines to appear wavy. If a person develops any of these symptoms, an eye exam is crucial and early diagnosis and treatment is essential to help avoid severe vision loss.
People who have certain risk factors should absolutely schedule routine eye examinations and monitor symptoms. The single greatest risk factor for AMD is age although it is more likely to affect women, Caucasians and those with a family history of AMD.

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