According to National Eye Institute (NEI)’s National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP), February is AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month. The term “low vision” encompasses any visual impairment that cannot be corrected by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic eye disease, and glaucoma. Whatever the cause, lost vision often cannot be restored. It can, however, be managed with proper treatment.
In conjunction, Dr. Howard Lazarus, Director of Retina and Research at John-Kenyon, is spreading the word about eye disease, especially age-related macular degeneration:
- According to NEI, 4.2 million Americans ages 40 and older are visually impaired, and 3 million suffer from low vision. By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, the number of visually impaired Americans will reach an estimated 7.2 million, with 5 million having low vision.
- Age-related macular degeneration causes a deterioration of the retina, affecting the central vision needed for common tasks like driving and reading. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss among people aged 50 and older in developed countries. In the United States alone, over 2 million people have AMD. This number is expected to increase to 5.4 million by 2050. Adults over age 60 are most at risk for AMD, but the disease can appear as early as age 40. Studies have also shown that women tend to be more affected with AMD than men.
- Unfortunately, there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, though particular combinations of vitamins and antioxidants may slow the progress in its less advanced stages. Additionally, people who suffer from AMD can compensate for some of their vision loss by using reading glasses, magnifying glasses and direct light when reading or doing close-up work.
Dr. Lazarus and the team at John-Kenyon encourage adults to have an eye exam at least once a year. Frequent, comprehensive eye exams are the best protection against the progression of AMD and the other impairments that cause low vision, no matter what time of year.