Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), which affects more than 10 million older Americans, continues to be the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. The global cost of the disease according to a recent report by AMD Alliance International (AMDAI) is estimated at $343 billion, underscoring the need for swift actions to raise awareness of prevention and treatment options.
During this year’s AMD Week, which runs from September 18-26, AMDAI, along with some of the leading eye-care organizations from 25 countries, has issued a call to action to doctors, patients and caregivers through the public awareness campaign “Don’t Surrender to AMD.”
“This is a promising time for patients as preventative measures and effective, timely treatments have the ability to alter the disease tremendously,” said AMDAI’s Chairman Don Curran. “But macular disease is only as preventable and manageable as people are knowledgeable. Knowing the facts can significantly improve a person’s chances of maintaining healthy vision and a better quality of life.”
The National Institutes of Health projects the number of AMD diagnoses to double to 20 million by 2020. Losing vision has devastating consequences to an individual’s daily life and those affected by the disease often suffer from severe depression and loss of independence.
However, those at-risk and AMD patients can take steps to reduce needless sight loss. AMD can be prevented or slowed down if a person takes action to keep his or her vision healthy. Along with regular eye exams, the first step is a healthy lifestyle (Don’t smoke, take exercise, eat healthily and use sunglasses in bright sunlight). Specially formulated vitamins for those affected by the disease may help, and effective clinically-approved treatments are available for the most severe form of AMD.
In addition, low vision rehabilitation and support services can significantly help patients live with the disease and make the most of their remaining vision.
“AMD is a disease that we can prevent and manage,” says Dr. Alan Cruess, Chairman of AMD Alliance International’s Scientific Advisory Panel. “We have the ability to save the sight of many Americans each year.”
Through its “Don’t Surrender to AMD” campaign, AMDAI has increased public education efforts – which will span across print, radio, and digital media, including an interactive e-card – to inform the public of preventative measures and treatment options that are available in the fight against AMD.
MORE ABOUT AMD
Age-related Macular Degeneration or AMD is an eye disease that causes loss of central vision, leaving only peripheral, or side, vision intact. It usually does not lead to total blindness, but rather may cause foggy or blurred central vision and varying degrees of usable peripheral vision. Whether you have the more common “dry” (early) form of AMD, or the more severe (late stage) “wet” form, it is important to know the facts about AMD and what you can do to make the most of your sight.
If you take certain measures to keep your eyes healthy, you can prevent AMD or slow its progress. AMD Alliance International suggests taking the following three steps to help prevent and manage AMD.
Get regular eye exams and manage your eye health
— Routine exams can help identify AMD and other eye problems in their early stages, when many diseases are more easily treatable.
— Don’t smoke, eat a healthy varied diet, take exercise and use UV certified sunglasses in bright sunlight.
Understand the risk factors for AMD
— If you are 50 or older, you’re at risk of developing the disease. Having a family member with AMD can also increase your risk.
— Smoking, a diet high in saturated fat, obesity, and having high blood pressure are risk factors associated with AMD.
Ask questions and know your treatment options
— Know your exact diagnosis and all available treatment options.