AMD leading causes in vision loss in 50+ crowd

Published 12:02 am Friday, February 1, 2013

With life expectancy continuing to rise, managing eye health is essential for people to maintain healthy, happy and productive lives, and to promote that, February is designated as macular degeneration awareness month.

Dr. Bill Tillman of Tillman Family Eye Care said age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 50.

It is estimated that 1.8 million people have the disease and another 7.3 million are at risk for vision loss from AMD, Tillman said.

“AMD occurs when the central area of the retina responsible for clear vision – the macula – is damaged,” he said. “This results in a loss of central vision in the eye, which is needed for reading and close work. Color vision and distance vision are also affected.”

Tillman said there are two types of macular degeneration- “dry” or atrophic and “wet” or exudative.

“The exact cause of the disease is unknown, but it may relate to aging, hereditary factors, smoking and exposure to high levels of ultraviolet radiation and blue light, both which are found in sunlight,” he said. “Your lifestyle can play a role in reducing your risk of developing AMD and other eye diseases.”

To avoid those, Tillman recommends:

• eating a low-fat, balanced diet rich in green, leafy vegetables;

• asking one’s eye doctor about dietary supplements;

• wearing sunglasses to block 99 to 100 percent of ultraviolet radiation; and,

• avoiding smoking.

He also urges residents to be alert for the symptoms of the wet form of macular degeneration and seek professional help immediately if they notice:

• a sudden loss of the ability to see clearly;

• a gradual change in color vision;

• distorted vision, such as wavy lines that should be straight; and/or,

• a dark or empty areas appearing in the center of vision.