Harrisburg, PA – Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of severe vision impairment among Americans ages 65 and over. Since 2000, the prevalence of AMD in the United States increased from 1.65 million people to over 2 million by 2010. Given the rising rates of AMD among seniors, the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology encourages Pennsylvania residents to learn their risk factors and prevent vision loss from AMD.
AMD is an eye disease that damages the retina, which is the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that focuses images and relays them to the brain. Over time, this retinal damage can lead to permanent loss of central vision, which is essential for driving, reading and recognizing faces. Unfortunately, most people with AMD don’t notice any symptoms until there has been significant damage to the retina. There are no early warning signs for AMD, so once a person notices symptoms, there may already be permanent damage to their vision. Regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist- a medical doctor specializing in vision and eye health- are critical to ensure early detection and treatment.
“With an eye disease like age-related macular degeneration, it is important that patients are aware of their risk factors,” says Joanna Fisher, MD, the PAO Secretary of Public and Professional Information. “As an ophthalmologist, I see too many patients come into my office only after they notice a significant change in their vision. By that time the disease is usually advanced and there may be irreversible vision loss. Being informed about your risk factors, especially age, and having regular eye exams are key steps in preventing vision loss from AMD.”