As senior citizens account for 12 per cent of the world’s population, it is important to understand the challenges faced by people as they age and recognise that there are preventive measures. Even though degenerative diseases like Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) are common amongst the elderly population, the lack of awareness on the seriousness causes a delay in seeking treatment. Doctors therefore stress on the importance of its early detection.
While cornea-related diseases are easily recognised, retinal diseases are not. “One in five persons over the age of 65 are at the risk of AMD which is an important cause of severe visual loss in the elderly population — constituting to 8.7 per cent of the world population,” said Dr K Babu, an Ophthalmologist.
From a blurry or a fuzzy vision to a decreased contrast or colour sensitivity and a difficulty seeing at a distance, the symptoms of this condition are varied.
“The functional losses that result from visual impairment can bring about a loss of independence and the lack of control over one’s life. It may also be noted that the rate of depression in AMD is higher than depression due to other reasons amongst the elderly population. It is basically at par with other chronic and disabling diseases,” he added.
Social isolation can arise from restrictions on mobility (such as difficulty in driving and limited walking because of the fear of falling), embarrassment about one’s loss of vision and the like. “The vision loss resulting from AMD and its associated impact on daily function appreciably lowers a person’s quality of life. While AMD cannot be cured, there are effective treatment options available that can reverse, slow or halt its progression,” stated Dr Rajiv Raman Consultant Vitreoretinal services at Sankara Nethralaya.
He said that the treatment can prove more effective only if it is diagnosed early. “Today, there are treatment options available that can slow or halt the disease progression. It is a progressive disease that affects the older population. However, due to unhealthy lifestyle and poor dietary habits it has started affecting the working population. Most often, the symptoms of AMD are confused with old age. It is advisable for an individual to visit an ophthalmologist or a retina specialist as soon as they start experiencing symptoms. Early detection of AMD increases the possibility of preventing permanent vision loss,” he added.
Steps To Follow
The most important action you can take to preserve your vision is to make a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Some key ways that can help you stay healthy
Adherence to treatment prescribed by the doctor
Following a healthy diet and lifestyle
Limited exposure to digital screens
Effectively managing diabetes and hypertension