February is AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month
Thursday, February 12, 2015
February is National AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month. Age-related Macular Degeneration is an eye condition that leads to central vision impairment and affects millions of people, primarily those over 50 years of age. While not causing total blindness, it does lead to the inability to read, drive and everything that requires straight ahead vision.
AMD can be a difficult disease to discover because it often develops so slowly that people don’t realize their vision has deteriorated. When people do notice a change in vision, they often associate it with the aging process and don’t have their eyes examined.
The effects of AMD can be simulated by closing an eye and placing a fist in the front of the other, open eye. When done, only the periphery is visible – this is how one who suffers from AMD sees the world.
Central vision is controlled by an area in the back of the eye called the macula, and this is the area primarily affected by AMD. There are treatments for macular degeneration There are two primary types of AMD:
- “Dry” or non-neovascular, is the most common type and is usually seen in the early stages of the disease. There is usually minimal vision loss in this type of AMD, with some exceptions.
- “Wet” or neovascular, is the more severe of the two types and often happens in the later stages of the disease. It causes severe central vision loss and is the result of when blood vessels form under the center of the macula and leak fluid as they grow. This excess fluid is the cause of blurred or distorted vision.
Symptoms for AMD worsen slowly over time and can be hard to realize until one’s sight has seriously deteriorated. Things to be on the lookout for are noticeable visual distortions. For example, when objects known to be straight or at right angles, such as pillars and doorways, appear crooked. People with AMD also report that faces appear wavy and nearby objects frequently appear farther away and smaller than normal.
There are known risk factors associated with AMD, but the exact cause remains a mystery. Interestingly, the things that put one at risk for AMD are the same as those for heart disease, stroke and other serious medical conditions. They include: high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking and general inactivity.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of AMD you should see an ophthalmologist immediately. At BayCare Clinic Eye Specialists we have ophthalmologists and retina specialists on staff for immediate diagnosis and care. Call us at 920-327-7000 or make an appointment online.
Kirk Scattergood, MD, an ophthalmologist at BayCare Clinic Eye Specialists, is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. He earned his medical degree at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed a residency in ophthalmology at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center. Dr. Scattergood is fellowship trained in retina and vitreous, which means he has received the highest training in the treatment of vitreoretinal disease, macular degeneration and retinal detachments.