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AMD Risk Factors Eye Disease Complications Your Aging Eyes

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You can severely lose your central vision. Having the ability to perform task would be affected by how well you can see. Age-related macular degeneration.

As your vision creeps away, it can be quite disturbing. There is currently no cure for AMD. Most importantly, treatment options are available that can prevent or slow down its progression.

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration is a disease involving your central vision. It’s a main cause for vision loss in adults 50 and older. Further, this disease damages your macula. In short, macula is a small area close to the center of the retina which controls your sharp central vision.

Usually, the disease develops slowly so you may not notice vision loss for a long time. However, it can progress quickly leading to vision loss in one or both eyes. AMD doesn’t lead to total blindness.

But losing your central vision you can’t see people, objects or movements right in front of you. Meaning your vision is affected doing such things as reading, writing, driving, cooking, home repair and yard work.

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Symptoms of AMD

In the early stages no symptoms may appear. When your macula is damaged, this can cause objects and faces to look dark, blurry or distorted. And straight lines seem to be bent and uneven.

Causes of AMD

It is not known what exactly causes AMD to develop. However, there is a link to some risk factors.

These are:

  • Excess weight
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • A family history of the condition
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AMD Risk Factors

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology key factors seem to be:

Age

The risk goes up after 60 years of age.

Race

More likely to be affected by developing AMD are Caucasians versus African Americans or Hispanics.

Smoking

According to studies a smoker’s risk for AMD is 4 times higher compared to others who don’t smoke.

Family History

Current studies have identified about 20 genes that lead to the development of AMD. Of the people having AMD about 15-20% has a close relative with the condition.

Obesity

Obesity along with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels seem to add to the risk.

Dietary Fats

Studies report that people who consume many saturated fats are at greater risk of AMD.

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Complications of AMD

AMD can involve many complications.

Choroidal Neovascularization (CNV)

CNV is the abnormal growth of blood vessels found below the retina. With wet AMD it is typical and can cause a complication for myopia macular degeneration. Most importantly, if you have myopic CNV or wet AMD these blood vessels have a chance to leak or bleed.

Normally, your retina is flat. This can disrupt it causing extreme effect on central vision very quickly. Above all, this can be treated with intravitreal injections of medicine.

Injections are administered into the eyeball. Usually, anti-VEGF treatments are typically administered to maintain wet AMD and CNV in myopic macular degeneration.

Charles Bonnet Syndrome

Charles Bonnet Syndrome is visual hallucinations that macular degeneration and other retinal diseases can occasionally have. But it’s more likely to happen with those that have more advanced retinal disease. Although rare, it does occur but is not due to a psychiatric condition, metabolic abnormalities or brain injury.

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment can be another complication of macular degeneration. But this can develop for other reasons too. Further, this is what happens when the retina detaches from the eye.

The retinal tissues part from the blood vessels that were feeding these cells damaging them and leading to vision loss.

Retinal detachments symptoms can be:

  • Viewing “floaters” or spots in your vision
  • Flashes of light in one or both eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Decreased peripheral vision

If you should have any of these symptoms you should consult your doctor right away.

Depression

Your vision gave you independence and the ability to do enjoyable activities. Losing this now can return sadness and feelings of isolation. In short, macular degeneration can affect your quality of life.

Most importantly, not having a support system can bring on depression, anxiety and stress. That is to say, address your mental and emotional health along with physical health as overall well-being.

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Falls and Fractures

With low vision your risk of falling increases. This in turn can lead to head injury, bone fractures and trauma to other body areas. Above all, low light makes it hard to observe contrasting steps or landings, electrical cords as well as upturned carpets. These scenarios can put you at risk for falling and becoming injured.

Driving

Driving means independence. Having this taken away due to vision loss can be a big inconvenience. Above all, your physician can give you advice if your vision changes affect this activity.

Cardiovascular Risk

AMD and cardiovascular disease (CVD) have a few common risk factors. And if you have AMD, you are more likely to have symptoms of CVD. Making decisions to reduce the risk of CVD can also reduce the risk of AMD.

Visual Hallucinations

Some people can experience visual hallucinations if there is severe vision decrease. This is said to be because your brain compensates for visual information not there by selecting fantasy images. In short, like from your memory bank.

It has been discovered that some patients don’t bring up this link for fear of a mental illness diagnosis. Most importantly, these visual hallucinations reflect vision issues and not a change in mental state.

AMD Progression

How your macular degeneration progresses can vary. Those with myopia macular degeneration progression of visual symptoms can be slow or sudden. And a more rapid vision loss tends to be an earlier onset of Stargardt disease.

The progression of vision loss in wet AMD can move quickly compared to dry AMD. If you begin to observe any differences in your vision, consult your eye doctor right away.

There are additional symptoms with progressive AMD.

  • Extreme loss of central vision (could be smudged or distorted)
  • Viewing details can be difficult and contrast
  • Colors could look washed out
  • More problems adjusting to changes with light, especially dim light conditions
  • The need for brighter and brighter lights to perform task
  • Difficulty with depth perception

As your vision loss progresses there are tools you can use to assist in adapting to your needs. You could require special lenses in your glasses, hand-held or electronic magnifiers. Likewise, other devices can serve your daily routine.

Having a Support Team

Gather a group together as your vision loss gets worse. This is when you will rely on guidance from your support team.

Included may be:

  • Occupational therapist
  • Mobility specialists
  • Certified low vision specialist
  • Counselors
  • Eye doctor

They hold knowledge and experience to address your practical and physical needs. Along with demonstrating how to adapt your daily activities as your visual abilities change. To sum up, these specialists can also help you deal with any emotional impacts connected with your vision loss progression.

Working with Your Healthcare Team

It is expected to have complications with any chronic ailment. However, how you deal with it is what matters. Certainly, knowing the possible complications of macular degeneration along with the treatment options can assist you in preparing for the event if it occurs.

Your choices allow you to be an active part of your healthcare team. Question your specialist on various symptoms to lookout for during your macular degeneration course. Request signs to alert potential complications. Most importantly, you can be provided with any specific warning signs and what to do if you observe these changes.

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How to Protect Your Aging Eyes

You have no control over a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration. However, you can make some lifestyle changes to reduce your risk for these eye conditions occurring.

Stop Smoking

If you smoke or have quit there is up to 4 times the risk for getting ARMD. This compares to others who have never smoked.

Researchers report several reasons for the higher risk with smokers, such as cellular changes, oxidative stress and vascular constriction. There is online support if needed.

Watch Your Weight

Yes, having excess pounds affects more than your heart, blood pressure and blood sugar. Being overweight can also raise your chances for ARMD.

It could be the increasing inflammation in the eye. However, more studies are needed to research if losing weight can make these conditions better.

Check Levels

Stay on top of maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol levels to the normal range. Make a note to perform regular checks if needed.

Wear Your Shades

Sun exposure also raises the chance for ARMD. The theory is more UV light cases changes in the metabolism with the cells of the retina and lens. Thus, make sure you have both UVA and UVB wavelengths for eye protection and they are the wrap around kind.

Eye Exam

Most importantly, schedule an appointment for your comprehensive eye exam. Stay up to date on any changes with your vision.

Wrapping it up

It can be pretty scary as your vision gets worse and adapting to this new challenge. Taking simple task like reading has now become hard. Further, this brings feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. In conclusion, know your support team and get the help you need.

Mary

Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.

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