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Eyesight and aging eye changes can definitely be an issue for the whole Sandwich Generation family – from grandtots in eyeglasses to senior parents facing cataract surgery. And one that is especially concerning to me personally, and perhaps to many of you, is Macular Degeneration. Since this is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness month, I thought it would be good to share some important facts about this not-very-nice disease that my own senior dad had.
According to the National Institutes of Health:
Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 and older. It is a disease that destroys your sharp, central vision. You need central vision to see objects clearly and to do tasks such as reading and driving.
AMD affects the macula, which is the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. It doesn't hurt, but it causes cells in the macula to die. In some cases, AMD advances so slowly that people notice little change in their vision. In others, the disease progresses much faster and may lead to a loss of vision in both eyes. Regular comprehensive eye exams can detect macular degeneration before the disease causes any vision loss. Treatment can slow down vision loss, but it does not restore vision.
They have some very useful and comprensive information and FAQs for us at their site, Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration.
Genentech and the American Society of Retina Specialists also share some concerning info about this disease including:
"The same things that put you at risk for heart disease and stroke also put you at risk for AMD, such as:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
I was surprised to discover that gender (WOMEN more than men) is one of the other things that play an important role in whether you might get this disease, along with age (over 60), and family history. You can read all the warning signs and find more useful information at their site, AMD Awareness.
As Dr. Ryne C. Wood, Optometrist with Leet EyeCare in Missouri, points out, "February is AMD Awareness Month and we encourage all people, especially those at higher risk for this disease, to familiarize themselves with the potential symptoms and need for regular eye examinations." Sounds like good advice for all of us in the Sandwich Generation, along with our senior parents!
P.S. If you'd like more information on this subject, you might like to check into the book, The First Year: Age-Related Macular Degeneration: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed by Daniel L. Roberts, which comes in a Kindle and Extra Large Print books. Mr. Roberts is a patient of AMD himself and has a resource-full website devoted to the topic of AMD.