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Age-related Macular Degeneration is the Major Cause of Visual Impairment in the United States in People Over Age 65

  • Press Release

American Health Assistance Foundation Recognizes Age-related Macular Degeneration/Low Vision Awareness Month

CLARKSBURG, MD.-It is estimated that as many as 9.1 million people* in the United States will have intermediate and advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in 2010. Although surveys indicate that almost half of adults have not heard of age-related macular degeneration, it affects almost four times the number of people who were diagnosed with cancer last year.

“Researchers and scientists worldwide are working to find new treatments and a cure for this life altering disease,” said Stacy Pagos Haller, President & CEO of the American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF). AHAF funds the most innovative and cutting edge research in an effort to save the eyesight and quality of life of our seniors,” she added.

“Although lost vision cannot currently be restored, age-related macular degeneration can be treated and its progression slowed. In observance of February as AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month, AHAF is stressing the importance of regular eye examinations,” said Ms. Haller.

Age-related macular degeneration is a common eye disease causing deterioration of the central area of the retina, resulting in blind spots and blurred or distorted vision. There are two forms of macular degeneration: dry and wet and neither one cause pain.

The dry form of macular degeneration initially causes slightly blurred central vision. Blind spots may develop and patients find it increasingly difficult to see color and fine detail. In many cases, breakage of abnormal retinal blood vessels occurs, leading to a condition commonly called wet macular degeneration. Patients with wet AMD may see straight lines appear wavy and in the more severe form, central vision loss can occur rapidly, sometimes within weeks.

Smokers have twice the risk of nonsmokers and women appear to be at greater risk than men of developing macular degeneration. Additional risk factors include: family history of the disease, race, obesity, prolonged exposure to sunlight, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

What can be done to help preserve vision? There are existing therapies for patients with the wet form of macular degeneration. People with the more common dry form may be able to limit progression of their disease by taking vitamin and mineral supplements. What contributes to a healthy body is also helpful for healthy eyes.

“The American Health Assistance Foundation is working everyday to learn more about this eye disease by funding research to look for improved treatment options and cures. To date, AHAF has awarded more than $100 million to the world's leading scientists for age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and Alzheimer's disease research,” stated Ms. Haller.

To learn more about age-related macular degeneration visit the website at www.ahaf.org or call 800-437-2423. The American Health Assistance Foundation offers helpful resources including free publications such as, Living With Macular Degeneration, the Amsler grid and information on low vision aids.

*Subsequent to the posting of this press release, the statisitcs were updated. Please see our most recent macular degeneration figures.