February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Low Vision Awareness Month. Spreading awareness about the impact of this disease is essential as AMD is the leading cause of low vision in industrialized countries.
What Is Low Vision?
One definition of low vision is a best-corrected vision in the better eye of 20/70 or worse. However, this definition is not inclusive of all manifestations of low vision. A functional (and perhaps more practical) definition of low vision is “uncorrectable vision loss that interferes with daily activities.”
The World Health Organization classifies vision impairment as follows, ranging from mild to total blindness. Best-corrected vision in the better eye of:
● 20/30 to 20/60 is considered mild vision loss.
● 20/70 to 20/160 is considered moderate visual impairment, or moderate low vision.
● 20/200 or worse is considered severe visual impairment, or severe low vision. This level of vision is considered legally blind.
● 20/500 to 20/1000 is considered profound visual impairment or profound low vision.
● Less than 20/1000 is considered near-total visual impairment or near-total low vision.
● No light perception is considered total visual impairment, or total blindness.
Low vision encompasses more than reduced visual acuity. Other low vision-related disabilities include:
● Reduced contrast (such as in albinism, optic atrophy and achromatopsia)
● Peripheral visual field loss (such as in glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, stroke or traumatic brain injury)
● Central visual field loss (such as in AMD, diabetic retinopathy and macular dystrophies)
Facts About AMD
Here are some interesting facts that you can share with patients to help them understand the significance of AMD:
● Almost 50 percent of patients with AMD are first diagnosed with a visual acuity of 20/200 or worse. Up to 78 percent of patients first diagnosed with AMD have already experienced irreversible vision loss.
● Visual acuity is minimally affected in the early stages of AMD, which may be one reason why 25 percent of AMD cases go undiagnosed.
● Approximately 10 to 20 percent of people with dry AMD progress to wet AMD (if left untreated).
● Smoking is the most significant, modifiable risk factor of AMD. Current smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop AMD than those who have never smoked.
● Between 2010 and 2050, the number of people in the United States with AMD will double from 2.07 million to 5.44 million.
● Impaired dark adaptation is one of the earliest indicators of AMD. Research indicates these symptoms manifest at least three years before clinical signs of AMD are detected. Patients should not assume night vision difficulty is related to normal age-related changes in the eye.
● At least 52 genetic variants of AMD have been discovered. Patients who have a family member diagnosed with AMD are at least three times more likely to develop the disease than someone without a first-degree relative with AMD.
Optimal Eyewear For AMD Prevention
Ongoing research shows that chronic exposure to ultraviolet and blue light may play a role in the development of AMD. Sunlight is the most significant source of these types of radiation, so it’s important to counsel patients on proper sun protection (including brimmed hats, wraparound designs and larger lenses for full coverage).
R&D Optical Lab has a vast range of photochromics, mirrored treatments, performance tints, polarized lenses and more to suit your patients’ needs. We also carry BluTech lenses, which block up to 59 percent of blue light. These lenses are excellent for adults and children spending more time on digital devices than ever before. We stand behind our products and offer a 100 percent no-hassle warranty. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 513-273-4034 or visit us at RandDOptical.com.
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