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February is Age-related Macular Degeneration Month

Over 9 million people in the U.S. have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is a painless eye disease that is the leading cause of blindness in people over 65 years of age. That statistic is expected to double over the next decade as baby boomers begin heading into retirement.

Those living with AMD often ignore warning signs or wait until their vision has severely deteriorated before they seek appropriate medical help since the progression of the disease tends to be very slow. The most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from this sight-stealing condition is to visit your doctor for an annual eye exam.

Age-related Macular Degeneration affects the macula, the part of the eye used to see fine detail, gradually destroying a person’s central vision. Central vision is necessary for seeing objects clearly and for performing such common tasks as driving and reading.

Age-related Macular Degeneration comes in two different forms: wet and dry. The most common signs of dry AMD is blurred vision. As fewer cells in the macula become unable to properly function, individuals may see a small, but growing, blind spot in the middle of their field of vision. Wet AMD causes individuals to see crooked lines instead of straight ones. This is the result of fluid leaking from blood vessels, which gathers and lifts the macula, causing a distortion in vision. A small blind spot may also appear with wet AMD, resulting in the loss of central vision.

While there is no cure for most forms of Age-related Macular Degeneration, early detection is crucial, so be sure to get your eyes examined annually.