As we age, so do our bodies. There are a number of physical things that deteriorate or become more difficult to do, such as hearing and vision. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF), age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss among the elderly, affecting more than 10 million Americans – more so than cataract and glaucoma combined. It is caused by the deterioration of the eye’s retina where images we see are recorded and sent from the eye to the brain through optic nerves.
Early stages of AMD typically do not present any vision loss, which is why regular eye exams are very important for older adults. It can be detected by the presence of yellow deposits beneath the retina called drusen. Specific causes of macular degeneration are currently inconclusive due to limited research, however, it has been concluded that it can be both hereditary and environmental.
The biggest risk factor for AMD is age. Adult 55 years and older have the highest risk of developing macular degeneration. Other risk factors can include:
- Genetics – those who have a family history of AMD
- Race – Caucasians are more likely to develop AMD than African-Americans or Hispanics
- Smoking – this doubles the risk of developing AMD
There currently is no known cure for AMD, but a few things that can help to slow the progression include:
- Diet and exercise
- Stop smoking
- Protect your eyes from ultraviolet light
- Get regular eye exams
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