Monday, January 31, 2022

AMD Facts to Know

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in seniors. The disease harms central vision and limits a person’s ability to read, write and recognize faces. Older Americans who are unaware of the disease may be putting themselves at risk. The good news is that they can protect their sight with routine eye exams and some lifestyle changes. New treatments and protective steps can help people with AMD avoid vision loss. Here are some facts we think you should know:
  • The early warning signs of macular degeneration are subtle and easy to miss
In the earliest stages of AMD, you may not notice any changes to your eyes or vision. But at the same time, an early diagnosis allows for timely treatment. So how can you be sure to catch the disease early without obvious symptoms? The best defense is to get a comprehensive eye exam, even if you don't need glasses or contacts. The American Academy of Ophthalmology urges adults with no symptoms to have an eye exam at least by age 40. After age 65, it's important to get an exam every one to two years. But don't wait until age 40 if you notice problems with your eyesight or have eye discomfort.
  • Family history shapes your risk of macular degeneration
If you have a close family member with AMD, you have a greater risk of getting the disease. Before your next eye exam, speak with your family about their eye health history. Catching AMD early could better your chances of saving your sight.
  • You can't reverse vision loss from macular degeneration, but you can save your remaining vision
Fifteen years ago, there was little that we could do to stop AMD from stealing people's vision. The most advanced form of disease, called "wet" AMD because it causes fluid to leak from blood vessels in the eye, often caused blindness. Thanks to major advances in treatment, such as the use of anti-VEGF drugs, fewer people are going blind.
  • Vitamins can slow macular degeneration (in some cases)
If you have AMD, you may have heard that the AREDS 2 vitamin formula can help slow the disease. Clinical trials show that these vitamins for AMD can help with intermediate or advanced AMD in one eye. Trials have not shown that they prevent AMD in people who do not have the disease.
  • Smoking increases your risk of age-related macular degeneration
Many studies have found that smoking cigarettes can increase risk of AMD. Smoking also increases the speed at which the disease worsens. If you smoke, you are twice as likely to get AMD compared with a nonsmoker. The good news is that stopping smoking is the best action you can take to lower your risk of AMD. People who quit smoking 20 years ago have the same risk of AMD as people who have never smoked.
  • Daily vision checking at home is effective at monitoring AMD progression
The Amsler grid is a simple chart that people with dry AMD can use at home to check for changes. All you have to do is look at it once every day! Learn how to use the Amsler grid to track progression and risk of AMD-related vision loss.
  • Eating certain foods may cut your risk of macular degeneration
Studies have shown that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are good for eye health. Studies link eating these foods with a reduced risk of AMD-but not when taken as supplements. Other nutrients that help eye health include lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and vitamin C.
  • Exercise can help protect your vision as you age
Many studies show getting regular exercise can benefit your eyes. One study found that exercising three times a week reduced the risk of getting wet AMD by 70%. Studies also show that exercise reduces the risk of all stages of AMD.

If you or someone you know is over 65, please schedule regular eye exams for common senior eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration (AMD) so you can maintain eye health. Schedule an eye exam at Alabama Eye & Cataract Center in Birmingham at 205-930-0930, visit Alabama Eye & Cataract Center or Facebook.

Alabama Eye & Cataract Center is a leading eye care center in Birmingham located at UAB-Highlands, 1201 11th Avenue S, Suite 501, Birmingham, Alabama 35205 and staffed by UAB Medicine eye doctors and eye specialists.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

6 Tips for Using Glaucoma Eye Drops Effectively

Did you know that less than 50% of glaucoma patients use their eye drops properly and risk vision loss? Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States. When glaucoma is treated in its early stages, vision loss can be prevented. Recent studies show that more than half of glaucoma patients do not adhere to their prescribed treatment plans due to factors including difficulty in applying eye drops, lack of medication education and forgetfulness. Here are 6 tips to help overcome glaucoma medication challenges:

·           Be honest with your eye doctor about your medication difficulties. Missed a dose? It may not seem to matter much, but research shows that skipping doses can cause your glaucoma to become more severe. Be candid with your eye doctor about any problems you face in taking your medicine regularly, and ask about the best way to make up for a missed dose. The more you tell your doctor, the better he or she can help you find ways to customize your treatment plan to make it more manageable for your lifestyle.

·           Ask for help from health professionals and loved ones. It can be difficult to keep track of which meds to take and when. Talk with your ophthalmologist or pharmacist about your medications, their impact and possible side effects. Also, use the buddy system and tell your friends, family and caregivers about your condition and treatments. Consider taking a loved one or caregiver with you to your eye appointments, so they can help you follow your treatment plan when you're at home. They may also be able to help you apply your eye drops at home.

·           Use memory aids. The most common reason for not taking eye drops is forgetfulness. Try simple memory aids like linking your eye drop schedule to other things you do routinely. For example, put your eye drop bottle next to your toothbrush or your pill box if you take other medications. Try using physical reminders such as marking off a calendar when you use your drops, or moving your eye drop bottle from one place to another after you've applied your drops. Also, take advantage of today's technology and set an alarm on your phone to help you make your medication a part of your daily routine, or look for free smartphone apps and other tools.

·           Perfect the "pocket." Giving yourself eye drops can be challenging. In fact, research has shown that nearly 30 percent of people taking glaucoma medication are not properly applying their eye drops. This should involve gently pulling and pinching the lower lid to make a pocket to catch your drops. Once the drops are in, close your eyes (do not blink) and apply pressure to the point where the lids meet the nose for two to three minutes.

·           Don't use pot as a glaucoma treatment. Don't fall for rumors that medical marijuana can replace glaucoma medications. Prescription medicated drops are much more effective at treating the condition and have fewer risks than marijuana. Marijuana can also affect memory, which could make it more difficult to remember your treatments.

Certain factors put people at higher risk of developing glaucoma. These include age, family history of glaucoma, African-American and Hispanic-American ancestry, diabetes and past eye injuries. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all people get an eye exam by age 40, especially those who have a higher risk of glaucoma.  

If you or someone you know is over 40, or has other glaucoma risk factors please schedule a glaucoma eye exam at Alabama Eye & Cataract Center in Birmingham at 205-930-0930, visit Alabama Eye & Cataract Center or Facebook.

Alabama Eye & Cataract Center is a leading eye care center in Birmingham located at UAB-Highlands, 1201 11th Avenue S, Suite 501, Birmingham, Alabama 35205 and staffed by UAB Medicine eye doctors and eye specialists.