(BPT) - As you age, it's perfectly normal to notice changes in your body. You may not be able to move as fast or hear as well. Age also increases your risk of developing wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in seniors.
February is AMD Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to learn more about ways you can protect your vision and keep your eyes healthy. Read on for the five facts you need to know about AMD.
1. AMD is the #1 cause of vision loss in seniors
AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness for those over 65 in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the U.S., 20 million people are currently living with AMD and 1.7 million Americans have wet AMD. This advanced form of the disease may cause foggy or blurred central vision, which is crucial for reading and driving.
2. AMD progresses in stages
There are two forms of AMD: Dry and wet. Dry AMD accounts for 85% to 90% of all cases. About 10% to 15% of people develop wet AMD. Wet AMD can result in sudden and severe central vision loss, and may cause permanent blindness if left untreated.
3. There are AMD symptoms - but they may not always be noticeable
In its early stages, AMD may not cause any noticeable symptoms. Because AMD typically starts in just one eye, you may not notice any significant change in your vision.
If you experience blurred vision and have difficulty doing detailed work, sewing or reading fine print, you may have AMD. Blind spots may develop in the middle of your field of vision, and it may become hard for you to distinguish colors. Lines and edges may start to appear wavy - a hallmark for wet AMD.
4. There are multiple AMD risk factors besides age
While age is the main risk factor for AMD, there are others. Women tend to have a greater risk of developing AMD than men. White patients are more likely to lose vision from AMD than Black and Asian patients. You're at higher risk of developing AMD if you're a smoker, obese or have a family history of the disease.
5. Early diagnoses and treatment are key
There is good news: AMD-related vision loss can be significantly slowed if diagnosed and treated early on.
The best thing you can do for your eyes is to get regular eye exams. Make it a habit of regularly visiting your eye doctor so they can track any changes to your vision over time to keep your eyes as healthy as possible as you age.
Be on the lookout for any signs and symptoms of AMD. If you've already noticed vision changes, talk with your health care provider and get your eyes examined as soon as possible.
Your sight is so much more than just vision - it's how you experience life, remain independent and connect with others. Help preserve it by staying on top of your eye health. To learn more about AMD, visit gene.com.