Eyesight: What To Do When You're Over 50 - Senior Alert Medical

Eyesight: What To Do When You’re Over 50

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Aging gracefully means changes in your body, from eyesight to hair to skin that’s less firm than it was in your youth.

But loss of eyesight vision shouldn’t be on your short list of changes that are an inevitable part of growing older.

So, don’t surrender to macular degeneration.

If you’re older than 50, you should know about your eye health and what you can do to prevent or slow vision loss. Age-related macular degeneration, commonly known as AMD, is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. AMD affects about 10 million people in the U.S., and that number is projected to double by 2020, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“AMD is a disease that we can prevent and manage,” says Dr. Alan Cruess, Chairman of AMD Alliance International’s Scientific Advisory Panel. “We have the ability to save the sight of many Americans each year.”

AMD is a degenerative disease that affects the macula, the central part of the retina (think of it as your eye’s internal projection screen) responsible for clear central vision. There are two types of AMD – “dry” and “wet.” The dry form affects 85 to 90 percent of people with AMD and causes varying degrees of vision loss, characterized by a collection of deposits in the macula called drusen. Far less common, but much more serious, wet AMD causes severe vision loss, as abnormal blood vessels grow and leak blood and fluid into the eye.

If you take certain measures to keep your eyes healthy, you can prevent AMD or slow its progress. AMD Alliance International suggests taking the following three steps to help prevent and manage AMD.

1. Get regular eye exams

Everyone older than 50 should get regular eye exams. Most people believe they receive eye exams as often as they should. However, according to a recent AMD Alliance International study, only 63 percent of those at risk and 56 percent of those at high risk for AMD have their eyes checked annually. Routine exams can help identify AMD and other eye problems in their early stages, when many diseases are more easily treatable.


2. Understand the risk factors for AMD

By knowing the risk factors, you can take steps to reduce the chance of getting AMD.  Age is the greatest risk factor for AMD – if you are 50 or older, you’re at risk of developing the disease. Having a family member with AMD can also increase your risk.

While you cannot control your age or genes, there are other risk factors, including smoking, poor diet, obesity, and having high blood pressure, that are controllable.

Quitting smoking reduces your risk for AMD. Numerous studies have demonstrated that people who smoke are between two and five and a half times more likely to develop AMD than people who do not smoke.

Studies also suggest that AMD is linked to diets high in saturated fat. Reducing saturated fat consumption and eating more fresh fruits and dark green, leafy vegetables – all foods that are rich in vitamins C and E, selenium and carotenoids – may delay the onset or reduce the severity of AMD. Fish rich in omega-3 fats, like salmon, tuna or mackerel, may also slow the progress of AMD when eaten two to three times a week, according to a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

3. Ask questions and know your treatment options

If you have been diagnosed with AMD, your ability to ask the right questions and receive accurate information is crucial. Review “Questions to Ask Your Eye Care Professional” at www.amdalliance.org to help guide the conversation at your next eye exam.  Be sure you know your exact diagnosis and all available treatment options.

Specially formulated vitamins can reduce the risk of advanced AMD for some patients. Effective, clinically approved treatments are also available for the most severe form of AMD, which may reverse some vision loss. Make sure you ask your doctor about your options and understand what treatment you are receiving.

People living with macular disease should be able to fully participate in choosing  their treatment and healthcare options.  Know your rights and download the Patient Charter.

Also, if you’re diagnosed with AMD, a low vision rehabilitation specialist can help you use your remaining eyesight to its full potential through special techniques and low vision aids.

Age-related macular degeneration and the loss of vision can be prevented and slowed down. By learning about the disease and making healthy lifestyle choices, many Americans will be able to enjoy healthy eyesight vision well into their golden years.

– Article Courtesy of ARAcontent

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