You might have heard about Breast Cancer Awareness Month or World Diabetes Day. Have you ever heard of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Month which falls on February? What do you know about AMD? How much do you know about what is going on inside your eyes?
The human eye has been called the most complex organ in the body. It functions like a camera with a structure in the eye called the cornea focuses light onto a light-sensitive membrane called the retina. Iris is the coloured, ring-shaped membrane. The pupil which can expand or contract helps to control the amount of light entering the eye. The macula allows us to see the objects with great details. The choroid contains blood vessels that supply the retina with nutrients and oxygen and remove its waste products.
Age-related vision changes happen to many people as age increases. One of the common age-related vision disease is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a common eye disease that causes deterioration or breakdown of the macula.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) accounts for 8.7% of all blindness worldwide, which is one of the leading causes of blindness in the elderly population
- Among Asian populations who aged 40 to 79 years old, it is estimated that 6.8% have early AMD and 0.56% have late AMD
- Two forms of AMD
- Dry or non-neovascular: Aging and thinning of the tissues of the macula
- Wet or neovascular: Abnormal blood vessels begin to grow underneath the retina
Risk factors of AMD:
- Overweight/ obesity
- Long-term exposure to the sun without eye protection
- Family history/ genetics
Symptoms of AMD:
- More light is needed for activities such as reading
- A blurry spot appears in the center of the visual field
- A blurry spot becomes larger and darker
- Colors appearing less vivid
- Difficulty seeing when going from bright light to low light such as entering a dim room from the bright outdoors
- Straight lines may appear wavy
Do not delay in seeking advice from doctor if any changes happen in the vision, as they may be indicators of potential permanent damage that can happen very quickly.
Prevention of AMD:
- Maintain a healthy diet, which consists of green leafy vegetables, fish and antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Wear sunglasses and hats to prevent exposure to ultraviolet light
- Maintain normal blood pressure
- Get regular eye exams and contact the doctor immediately if notice any abnormal changes in vision
In conjunction with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Month which falls in February, let’s take good care of our eyes which are the windows to the world.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. 2016. What Is Macular Degeneration. [Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-macular-degeneration , 10 January 2017].
- American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF). 2017. What is Macular Degeneration. [Retrieved from https://www.macular.org/what-macular-degeneration ,10 January 2017].
- Bright Focus Foundation (AMDF). 2016. Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Facts & Figures. [Retrieved from http://www.brightfocus.org/macular/article/age-related-macular-facts-figures , 10 January 2017].
- Cheung, C. M. G., Tai, E. S., Kawasaki, R., Tay, W. T., Lee, J. L., Hamzah, H., & Wong, T. Y. (2012). Prevalence of and risk factors for age-related macular degeneration in a multiethnic Asian cohort. Archives of ophthalmology, 130(4), 480-486.
- National Eye Institute (NEI). 2015. Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration. [Retrieved from https://www.nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts , 10 January 2017].
- Wong, W. L., Su, X., Li, X., Cheung, C. M. G., Klein, R., Cheng, C. Y., & Wong, T. Y. (2014). Global prevalence of age-related macular degeneration and disease burden projection for 2020 and 2040: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Global Health, 2(2), e106-e116.