Individuals aged 50 and older usually experience some visual problems like the age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The condition involves visual problems and it specifically affects the macula of the eyes. AMD does not instantly cause a visual loss, however blindness is possible as the condition progresses. The most common symptom that is seen in AMD is a blurring vision located at the center of the eyes. As the disorder begins to progress, the blurred visual area may expand to affect the entire eyes with resulting visual loss. The inability to cope with age-related macular degeneration can interfere with one's ability to perform his daily activities and the person may experience the difficulty of recognizing people, difficulty in reading and other interference caused by a blurred vision.
Individuals at risk to age-related macular degeneration
The major risk factor in AMD is age. As a person begins to age, visual problems begin to occur. There is a higher risk for developing AMD when one reaches the age of 60, but the condition usually begins to manifest early in the 50's. The chance of individuals who smoke to develop AMD doubles with a higher risk seen among Caucasians. There is also a higher genetic factor that can increase one's risk to AMD.
There are possible ways by which one can mitigate the risks of developing AMD as they age. Living a healthy lifestyle is important, such as avoiding smoking, eating a healthy diet consisting of green, leafy vegetables. Constant monitoring of one's blood pressure, as well as the body's cholesterol level, can reduce the risk of AMD.
Various phases when AMD occurs
There are different phases by which the AMD occurs. It is usually determined by the extent of damage to the retina. Age-related macular degeneration can affect one eye only or both. In the first phase of the AMD, there is the development of the drusen under the retina of the eye. The drusen is only about medium size and does not result in a visual loss. During the intermediate phase, the drusen is larger and pigment changes begin to occur in the retina. An eye examination is usually necessary in order to detect these changes because the majority of the persons affected remain asymptomatic at this stage. In the later phase of the AMD, visual loss is imminent and there is a significant damage to the macula.
Early detection of the condition can help save the potential complications and serious symptoms of age-related macular degeneration such as a visual loss. It is easier to manage the condition with early diagnosis. It can be a traumatic experience to realize that you are gradually losing your vision. A low vision is usually manageable by wearing an eyeglass or contact lenses. In minor cases, the condition can be treated with medication. Surgical treatment is usually resorted to in the more serious cases of visual problems.
There are support systems that patients with AMD can resort to for help. Specialized eye doctors called ophthalmologists or optometrists can help you resolve and cope with your visual problem. They can provide the primary eye care that you need. If your condition is interfering with your daily activities, there are occupational therapists that can assist you in learning how to optimize your ability to perform tasks with a low vision.
Vision rehabilitation can significantly help improve the quality of life of people with AMD. The program can provide you training on how to use magnifying and adaptive devices and how to improve your skills in mobility. You will learn how to modify your home according to your needs.
Visual hallucinations may occur in certain instances. Some often mistake this as a sign of a mental illness, however, this manifestation should not bother you. The hallucination, also called as the Charles Bonnet Syndrome, usually lasts within a year or 18 months the most and goes away even without treatment. The best way of managing your symptom is to frequently blink the eyes and focusing on real objects several times. At night, it is best to keep a lamp on or a dim light.
Coping with your condition
Understanding the nature of your condition will help you cope better. Your doctor will be there to help you what course of treatment and coping strategies will be best for your condition. It is best to get help immediately to manage your visual problems at its early stage. An eye specialist can help you find the best device to use, such as using eyeglasses and to learn some important eye exercises that you should perform regularly. The involvement of your family members in your treatment is also valuable because individuals affected by AMD need the moral support in coping with their condition.
If you find it difficult to cope emotionally with your condition, you can seek the help of a counselor. Keeping a positive disposition will help you cope better. Using assistive devices and learning the skills in performing regular tasks even with visual loss or a poor vision makes the coping process easier. It is important to note that surviving the difficulties of a visual problem is made easier with a support group around you. Your condition is manageable and getting help at the first signs of its symptoms can help you obtain treatment to remedy your condition.
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