A senior using a walker with staff help in a New York assisted living home.

A Note On Age-Related Macular Degeneration Observed In Seniors 

0 Comment Category: Senior Health

Every year the month of February is remembered as Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month. As per the statistics, AMD is one of the major causes of vision loss in people over the age of 50. This disease is very common among seniors and can be challenging to diagnose at the early stages. Moreover, the treatment options for the problem tend to be limited. Many seniors in assisted living communities suffer from this problem and it is important to know about the different types, causes, symptoms, and preventive measures to ensure proper treatment for the problem.

Categories Of AMD 

Age-Related Macular Degeneration is a condition developed due to problems with the segment of the retina that is at the back of the retina – macula. This segment of the retina takes care of central vision. AMD can be categorized into two namely, dry AMD and wet AMD.

The most observed variant of AMD is dry AMD. This condition develops as a result of thinning of the macula with age and smaller clusters of protein get accumulated in it. The central vision will be blurry and it will progress slowly. Usually, it does not expand to peripheral vision, making it difficult to notice the problem in the early stages.

Wet AMD is less common and a more serious problem. This condition develops as a result of new and abnormal blood vessels that start to grow under the retina scarring the macula. In this type of macular degeneration, vision loss is more severe and occurs more rapidly when compared to dry AMD.

Symptoms Of AMD 

There are many symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration and some of the specific symptoms of the problem are:

  • Presence of a blurry area near the center of vision
  • Blank spots
  • Brightness of vision
  • Difficulty in reading or driving
  • Loss of sharpness of vision
  • Distortion of vision

The above-listed symptoms can affect one or both eyes. As other conditions like Alzheimer’s can also affect vision, an accurate diagnosis of the problem is important to ensure effective treatment. Apart from reviewing the medical history of the patient, the doctor may perform tests to confirm the diagnosis of AMD. These tests include a visual acuity test, pupil dilation, or an imaging technique like optical coherence tomography.

Risk Factors And Causes Of AMD 

There are some risk factors of Age-Related Macular Degeneration that should be monitored by caregivers in senior care homes. Older adults may be at an increased risk of AMD if they:

  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a family history of the problem
  • Are a current or former smoker
  • Are over the age of 60
  • Are obese or overweight

It might not be possible to control all these risk factors. However, there can be many lifestyle changes that can be implemented to decrease the chances of Age-Related Macular Degeneration.

Possible Treatments For AMD 

There are no treatments available for dry AMD and with the presence of early symptoms, a healthcare provider might be able to monitor the progression of the problem to recommend follow-ups. It is always important for people suffering from AMD to have a diet for good eye health and engage in regular exercise.

For seniors with later stage wet AMD, vision damage can be decreased by photodynamic laser therapy. This therapy helps seal the blood vessels inside the retina. There are also injections of anti-VEGF medications available that can reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels in the retina and slows down leaking.

AMD is a problem that can adversely affect the quality of life of seniors. Therefore, older adults need to develop healthy habits that can help decrease the risk of AMD, and caregivers in assisted living communities and senior care homes should help residents achieve the same.

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