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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Eye Care

One of the "Big Three" Eye Diseases

Like it or not, Americans are getting older.  In fact, the number of US citizens age 65 or older is expected to more than double over the next 40 years.    While this increase in longevity should be celebrated, an aging population also means an increase in overall health problems.  This is true in regards to eye health, as well, with the “big three” eye diseases (cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration) being more common in older individuals. 


Among these three eye conditions, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) usually has the potential to be the most visually devastating.  Cataracts can be addressed through a relatively routine surgery, and glaucoma can usually be effectively controlled with prescription eye drops.  AMD, however, usually progresses despite treatment.  And, while the visual effects of AMD can vary from no symptoms at all to legal blindness, AMD is usually the most visually debilitating of the three. 

           

AMD occurs when a part of the retina called the macula begins to thin and accumulate waste.  This condition, called dry AMD, usually causes a gradual distortion and blurring of central vision.  Sometimes, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina.  This is known as wet AMD, and usually causes more rapid central vision loss.

           

In the past two decades, much progress has been made in regards to treatment options for AMD.  Certain supplements have been shown to slow down the progression of dry AMD.  Also, risk factors, including smoking and obesity, have been identified for AMD progression.  In regards to wet AMD, the use of certain medications to shrink blood vessels under the retina have become mainstream and have improved the quality of life for numerous AMD patients. 

           

As our society ages, we’ll continue to see more and more AMD.  Like most diseases, it is most effectively managed if caught early.  So get a yearly eye exam, don’t smoke, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly.  Then you’ll be in a position to enjoy your best vision during your golden years.   

 

Until next time,

Clint Taylor, OD  


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