The recently held Harris Poll Survey highlighted a prevalent issue among the older age population and the lack of awareness around it. Age-related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness currently. However, the survey shows many of the adults are unaware of the fact the health condition may not always cause symptoms.
According to the research present on age-related macular degeneration, it is a progressive disease that primarily affects people who have crossed the age of forty.
With time, its symptoms may worsen and lead to irreversible blindness especially in people over the age of sixty. Statistically, it is also the number one cause of permanent blindness in older adults.
The disease develops when the central part of the retina, which is the nerve tissue sensitive to changes in light and is situated at the back of the eye, called the ‘macula’ malfunctions due to aging.
Till now, research has identified two different types of macular degeneration. A person can get either dry or wet macular degeneration.
People who are diagnosed with dry macular degeneration have deposits, also known as drusen, in their macula. This may not cause permanent vision loss but can affect the central vision significantly and lead to the formation of blind spots.
In the case of wet macular degeneration, people are usually observed to have blood vessel growth under the macula. These vessels may also leak blood or other fluids onto the macula which causes distorted vision.
Over time, the leakage may also lead to the development of a scar which then causes irreversible vision loss.
Most of the people are typically diagnosed with the dry form of macular degeneration. Only ten percent of the total diagnosed cases are of wet macular degeneration. However, the dry form may also progress into the wet one without appropriate medical attention.
This is why the America Academy of Ophthalmology has dedicated the month of February to spreading awareness around the issue of age-related macular degeneration in older adults.
More specifically, the AAO is urging people, specifically those who have crossed the age of thirty-five, to get a baseline eye exam by the age of forty. In fact, screenings should be held at least once every two years since the disease does not show any early symptoms.
According to AAO, more than two million people within the United States have advanced forms of age-related macular degeneration. The number is expected to reach 2.4 million by the year 2050.
The clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology Rahul N. Khurana, says “People’s lack of understanding about age-related macular degeneration is a real danger to public health,”
He adds “As the number of people with age-related macular degeneration is expected to explode in the coming years, it’s more important than ever that we prioritize eye health and have our eyes examined regularly.”
The only solution to this problem is awareness regarding the importance of comprehensive eye exams. The Harris Poll survey showed that around eighty-one percent of the people stated they protected their eye health.
However, upon being asked about medical examinations, only eleven percent of people got screenings and regular medical check-ups. This shows that many are not aware of the need for getting appropriate medical attention.
An increase in awareness around making screenings and regular check-ups can, therefore, help in resolving the issue.