February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Month

February is Low Vision Awareness Month
February 4, 2019
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Not only is February Low Vision Month that we discussed last week, but it is also Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month as well. Yes, that is certainly a mouthful…but an eyeful too.

ARMD is a disorder of the macula. The macula is the part of your retina where your central and color vision comes from. ARMD is a complex disorder where degenerative protein/lipids (called “drusen”) deposit under the retina. These deposits are seen in early macular degeneration. As the disease progresses, the structural support system of the retina breaks down and can allow abnormal blood vessels to grow, or leak fluid and further disrupt the retinal cells. If these blood vessels grow in the macula then you will lose your central. (There are other types of macular degeneration and drusen deposits that are not related to ARMD so a complete eye exam by an eye doctor for diagnosis is recommended.)

ARMD is the leading cause of central vision loss in Americans over 50 years old.

  • There are three main types of age-related macular degeneration:
  • Dry or Nonexudative – drusen and pigment deposits only
  • Wet or Exudative – abnormal growth/leakage of blood vessels +/- drusen deposits
  • Geographic atrophy – retinal support system breaks down with loss of vision without blood vessels or drusen usually

 

What are the risk factors?

  1. Age: Affects more than 2 million Americans over 50 years old. Prevalence of ARMD in the USA is around 6% when 65 and almost 20% when 75 years old.
  2. Genetics: Family history (many genes being studied)
  3. Smoking: Increases your risk for progression
  4. Other eye conditions: hyperopia and light colored iris
  5. Systemic diseases associated: hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, cardiovascular disease
  6. Gender: women are more likely to be affected than men
  7. Race: Caucasian
  8. UV light – no significant proven risk but caution and sunglasses advised.

Macular degeneration is irreversible. However, caught early, there are treatments that can greatly slow the progress of ARMD. Schedule an eye exam with us soon to see if you have any symptoms of ARMD before it’s too late.