Anne Osmer Reporting
A diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can be jarring. A disease that affects central vision, it gradually destroys the ability to see objects directly in the line of vision, impeding basic functions such as driving and reading. AMD affects as many as 18 percent of people age 65 to 74 and 30 percent of those 75 and older.
What is the biggest concern of people with AMD? “Loss of independence,” said Lylas Mogk, M.D., Director of the Center of Vision Rehabilitation and Research at Henry Ford Eye Care Services. “My number one message is that it does not cause blindness. There is always residual vision to work with.”
The center has doctors and specially trained occupational therapists to help people develop strategies for remaining independent. A recent study on depression and AMD-related vision loss found that less depression correlated only with whether the person could carry on with regular daily activities, and not with how much vision he or she had lost or the presence of a support network, Dr. Mogk said.
“The point of our center is to empower the individual to do as much as they can on their own, because that’s what feeds the spirit,” she added.
Risk factors for AMD include age, smoking, light-colored skin and eyes, family history and poor diet. “People who eat better diets, people who have fish two times a week, people who eat lots of leafy green vegetables are at lower risk,” stressed Emily Y. Chew, M.D., Deputy Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the National Eye Institute.
Since early detection is important to slowing progression of the disease, people should have their eyes checked for AMD every two to three years starting at age 40, and every year when they reach 65.
Contact the following for more information about age-related macular degeneration:
• National Institutes of Health National Eye Institute: online at www.nei.nih.gov or call (301) 496-5248.
• HAP: Go to www.hap.org, log in with Online Services then visit Healthy Living> Seniors Health>Seniors Health Zone and search for “macular degeneration.”
• Macular Degeneration International: online at www.maculardegeneration.org or call toll-free (800) 683-5555.
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