Don’t confuse age-related macular degeneration with the loss of sight associated with the normal aging process. In fact, according to an article published on aarp.com, they are quite different.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that affects 10 million people in the United States, with 1.75 million experiencing significant vision loss (aarp). Unlike, normal age-related vision loss, AMD cannot be fixed with corrective surgery or glasses. It affects the center of the retina, the part that gives you the ability to drive, read, golf, etc. In this case, the lens cannot be changed or replaced because it is decaying with age, rendering some people legally blind.
“People who are in their 70s and 80s are extremely active,” says Dr. Karl Csaky, head of the Retina Foundation of the Southwest’s Harrington Molecular Laboratory and an ophthalmologist with Texas Retina Associates. “If you had even a relatively small disturbance in vision, that could be extremely devastating in terms of what you’re used to doing.”
By 2020, approximately 20 million Americans will be affected by AMD. Currently there are no cures or preventative treatments for the disease, but studies are showing that eating fish two or more times per week can help reduce the risk. Research performed at the National Eye Institution showed taking Vitamin A and C, as well as copper, zinc, and beta carotene slowed down the progression of a form of AMD as well. Additionally, there are other factors that may increase or decrease the risk, such as genetics and smoking.
As detrimental as this AMD seems, people are living with it every day. Tyler, a woman quoted in the article, puts the disease (and any disease for that matter) in perspective, “You can work with it and make it a positive thing, or it can devastate you. You make these choices in life. What am I going to do about it? Is it going to define me, or am I going to help define it?” She gets eye injections monthly and participates in studies for AMD on a regular basis in hopes of a cure.