If you are over 65 and having some eyesight difficulty, you need to see an eye doctor regularly and ask about AMD. Even if you are under 65 or you think you see perfectly, eye exams are important for prevention of AMD. Age related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in Americans who are over the age of 65. It has been estimated that over 1.75 million Americans now show signs of AMD and the number is expected to increase to over 3 million Americans by the year 2020. What is AMD? Well, technically it is a degenerative condition of the macula. It everyday terms, it means the retina, which is responsible for the central vision we use to read or drive, has begun to deteriorate. There are two different kinds of AMD, wet and dry, but both can result in central vision loss. The scary part of AMD is that it is gradual and painless. It may take years to even begin producing fuzzy, distorted, or shadowy areas in your central vision, so you may not even know you have the disease until your vision becomes distorted. However, your eye doctor can help detect AMD even before you experience symptoms and can even discuss risk factors to help reduce your chances of getting AMD. So your eye doctor becomes your first line of defense against AMD. Although there is no cure for AMD, your eye doctor has many treatments available to slow down the progression of the disease and may even help your vision. From vitamin treatment, low vision devices, and laser treatment, to drugs and the last resort of surgery, your eye doctor will be able to discuss with you the options that would work best for you and your lifestyle. You can also help lower your risk factors by watching your blood pressure, preventing obesity, and taking certain vitamins. Your eye doctor can help you determine which risk factors apply to you. Since one of the most prominent risk factors of AMD is age, if you are over 65, you need to see your eye doctor regularly. And if AMD runs in your family, regular eye exams at any age can help keep you from losing your vision to the disease. Prevention of debilitating eye conditions like AMD is important at any age.
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