As the baby-boomer generation comes of age, conditions affecting vision seem to be getting more attention in doctor's offices around the country. Roughly 200,000 cases of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) get diagnosed each year, a disease that affects women more frequently than men.
Age-related macular degeneration is the number one cause of vision loss in adults ages 60 and older. It affects the macula, the section of the eye that focuses on fine detail. As a result, AMD causes the loss of sharp, central vision which is necessary for normal, daily tasks such as reading and driving.
“Macular degeneration does affect women more often than men, as shown in many of our large studies,” explains Larry Singerman, M.D., of the Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia.
Age is the greatest risk factor for AMD. Because women tend to live longer than men, AMD is more prevalent among women. Aside from age and sex, other risk factors include:
• Family history
Caucasian adults are more likely to lose vision from AMD than African Americans.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years for seniors over the age of 65, and every two to four years for adults between forty and 65. AMD can be diagnosed at a routine eye exam
There are also warning signs associated with AMD. If you experience any of the following vision symptoms, contact an eye care specialist:
• Lines or edges that appear wavy or distorted;
• Blurry faces or difficulty seeing colors;
• Dark or empty spaces that block the center of your vision;
• Difficulty reading fine print or reading road signs from a moving vehicle; or
• Difficulty seeing at a distance or during twilight hours.