Have you ever heard of AMD? Sometimes it is also referred to as low vision. If you haven't heard about it, now is the time, because February is National AMD / Low Vision Month. Read more about what AMD is, what you can do about it, and some upcoming free resources in Western Oklahoma!
What does AMD mean?
AMD stands for age-related macular degeneration (that's a mouthful!). It is caused by the degeneration of the macula in the eye. The macula is located at the back of the eye and is made up of millions of light sensing cells that provide sharp, central vision. If the macula is damaged by degeneration, it can cause dark, distorted, or blurry central vision.
You can see where the macula is represented in the image to the right.
Who can get AMD?
AMD is usually the leading cause of vision loss for people over the age of 50, but it is most likely to occur after the age of 60.
You may be wondering: does AMD cause blindness? The answer is no; it does not cause complete blindness. What AMD does is cause central vision loss by causing blurred spots, blank spots and a lack of brightness in your central vision. AMD can affect one or both eyes.
This can lead to problems with simple activities such as reading and writing and activities of daily living including cooking, cleaning, and driving.
There are three stages of AMD: early, intermediate, and late. AMD is usually detectable in the early stage, but it does not usually cause vision loss. The intermediate stage sees additional degeneration, but again does not usually cause symptoms and is detectable. Late stage AMD can see any of the symptoms listed above, but not all of those affected by the disease reach this stage.
What causes AMD?
Obviously, age is a risk factor for AMD. But what are the other causes of AMD? They include:
Family History: It has been generally concluded that a family history of AMD places one at a higher risk. There are about 20 genetics factors that have been identified as being related to AMD, though there are no genetic tests to detect it yet. Take time to talk your family about your medical history.
Race: Race plays a part in AMD risk factors. Caucasians are more susceptible to getting AMD than Latinos or African Americans.
Smoking: Smoking cigarettes is a huge AMD cause. Being a smoker doubles your chances of developing AMD. Find out why it's never too late to quit!
How do I diagnose AMD?
AMD can be diagnosed by your eye doctor through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Your doctor will be looking for yellow deposits under your retina called drusen and pigmented changes under your retina.
If you are diagnosed with AMD, be sure to ask your doctor about treatment options, your future vision outlook, if you need to make lifestyle changes, and what symptoms to watch for.
Living with AMD
AMD treatment may sometimes be an option, but there are ways to live a happy life with AMD. The key is to have a great support team. This team can include:
Talk to your doctor about vision rehabilitation. Occupational therapy is one of the services that may be covered under Medicare and can be performed in the comfort of your own home. Keep in mind that your doctor must order occupational therapy for Medicare to cover it.
Learn more about occupational therapy here, or contact us at Sunshine Home Care for more information. We can also be reached by phone at 1-877-477-2014. Sunshine Home Care's service area includes most of Western Oklahoma and can be found here.
Additional tools to deal with vision loss include:
Talking clocks, watches, and calculators
Large print reading materials
High powered eye glasses
Computers with font enlargement options
AMD events in Western Oklahoma
Fortunately for those in Western Oklahoma, there are two free clinics coming up in our area! These clinics are being presented by NewView Oklahoma. They are taking place at:
February 21st from 9am - 5pm
Western Technology Center, 1000 S. Bailey Street, Hobart, OK 73651
Directions: located along Highway 9, west of Broadway Ave.
March 28th and March 29th from 9am - 5pm
Tamarack Assisted Living Center, 1224 E. Tamarack Rd, Altus, OK 73521
Directions: located about 1 mile east of Highway 283 on Tamarack Rd.
These free clinics are for participants over the age of 65 who struggle with low vision or blindness. The clinics will include low vision optometry, occupational therapy, assistive technology and orientation and mobility. NewView will complete intakes on eligible participants and schedule them for the appropriate day and time.
If you are interested in the low vision clinic in Hobart, OK or the low vision clinic in Altus, OK, contact Marlene Snow at 405-286-4753 or by email at email@example.com. There are a limited number of clients that can be served, so contact them to sign up as soon as possible.
Sunshine Home Care provides home health in Hobart, OK and most of Western Oklahoma. For more information on our agency, visit here or contact us today.