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Managing Eye Health in the Golden Years

Managing Eye Health in the Golden Years

(ARA)- With life expectancy figures continuing to climb, managing eye disease is essential for people to maintain healthy, happy and productive lives. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over age 50. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention estimate that 1.8 million people have the disease and another 7.3 million are at risk for vision loss from AMD.
AMD occurs when the central area of the retina responsible for clear vision, the macula, is damaged. This results in a loss of central vision in the eye, which is needed for reading and close work. Color vision and distance vision are also affected. There are two types of macular degeneration: "dry" or atrophic, and "wet" or exudative.
The exact cause of macular degeneration is unknown but it may be related to aging, hereditary factors, smoking and exposure to high levels of ultraviolet radiation and blue light, both found in sunlight. Your lifestyle can play a role in reducing your risk of developing AMD and other eye diseases. The AOA recommends that individuals:
* Eat a low-fat balanced diet rich in green, leafy vegetables, or ask their optometrist about dietary supplements;
* Wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of ultraviolet radiation;
* Keep blood pressure under control;
* Avoid smoking.
People should also be alert for the symptoms of the wet form of macular degeneration and seek professional help immediately if they notice:
* A sudden loss of the ability to see clearly;
* A gradual change in color vision;
* Distorted vision, such as wavy lines that should be straight;
* A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision.
The key to treatment and management of AMD is early detection; see your optometrist regularly to protect your vision. For more information, visit the association's Web site at

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