HOUSTON (January 24, 2013) – More than 2 million Americans over the age of 50 have Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a 25 percent increase from the last decade, according to the 2012 Vision Problems in the U.S. report from Prevent Blindness America.  The overall state prevalence rate is 1.7 percent for the Texas population age 50 and older, indicating that 118,169 older Americans have late AMD.  And, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness for those over the age of 65.

Prevent Blindness Texashas declared February as Age-related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month. The non-profit group offers a dedicated online resource for patients and caretakers to learn more about the disease.  The website, preventblindness.org/amd, provides a variety of tools and information on everything from risk factors, treatment options, and even a downloadable Amsler Grid, (a tool that can help identify vision abnormalities linked to AMD). 

Those with AMD may experience the following symptoms:

  • Straight lines, such as a flag pole or streetlight, may appear wavy
  • A dark or empty spot may block the center of vision
  • Written words or type may appear blurry

There are two forms of AMD: "dry" and "wet.” Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease. It involves the presence of drusen – fatty deposits that form under the light-sensing cells in the retina. Vision loss in dry AMD usually progresses slowly. Wet AMD is less common, but more rapidly threatening to vision. Wet AMD causes tiny blood vessels under the retina to leak or break open. This distorts vision and causes scar tissue to form. Although there are treatments for AMD, there is no cure.

“Fortunately, steps we can take today to maintain our overall health can directly benefit the eyes,” said Debbie Goss, President and CEO of Prevent Blindness Texas.  “We encourage all adults to make an appointment with their eye doctor today and develop a plan to protect their vision for a lifetime.”

To maintain healthy eyes and lower the risk of eye disease, Prevent Blindness Texas recommends that everyone:

  • Visit an eye doctor regularly
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat healthy foods, including foods rich in certain antioxidants
  • Stay active
  • Control blood pressure
  • Protect eyes from the sun by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and a brimmed hat

For more information on AMD and other eye diseases, please contact Prevent Blindness Texas at 1-888-98-SIGHT or visit www.preventblindnesstexas.org.

About Prevent Blindness Texas    

Founded in 1956, Prevent Blindness is the state’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight.  Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness Texas touches the lives of thousands of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, community and patient service programs and research.  These services are made possible through the generous support of the Texas public.  Through a network of regional offices and volunteers, we are committed to eliminating preventable blindness in Texas.  For more information, or to make a contribution to the sight-saving fund, call 1-888-98-SIGHT or visit us online at www.preventblindnesstexas.org, www.facebook.com/preventblindnesstexas, www.twitter.com/PBTexas or preventblindnesstexas.blogspot.com.

Download the AMD Awareness Press Release.