Age Related Macular Degeneration

Those who suffer from age related macular degeneration understand the frustration and difficulty that can be associated with the gradual loss of eyesight. For those who are older than sixty five years of age, this malady is the leading reason for blindness and vision loss. The number of cases of this disease that are reported each year is getting larger, most likely due to the growing number of senior citizens in the population. This disorder impacts central vision. The target if this illness is the macula, which can be found at the center of the retina, located at the back of the eye. It is the macula that provides the perception of fine detail. When age related macular degeneration, or AMD strikes, activities that require central vision such as reading or driving can be severely impacted. The speed at which this disease will move forward can vary from individual to individual. Some patients will only notice slight changes in their visions very slowly over a long period of time. Others may see a very rapid decline in vision. There are a number of factors that can increase an individual's chances of contracting AMD. Smoking and obesity are two health hazards that can increase the odds of experiencing this form of vision loss. Caucasians and women also seem to be more likely to exhibit symptoms. There may also be a genetic factor involved.

There are two forms of age related macular degeneration, wet and dry. Wet AMD involves blood vessels behind the retina. In wet AMD, abnormal vessels in this area will begin to grow. If these abnormal blood vessels, which can be very fragile, should begin to leak fluid or blood, the macula can be moved from its correct location in the back of the eye. In this type of AMD, damage to the macula will occur rapidly and vision loss will come at a very fast pace. Dry age related macular degeneration will not show symptoms quite so quickly. With dry AMD, the macula will experience a more slow and gradual break down. Little by little, the central vision will begin to blur. A large, distorted spot in the center of the eye will start to build. Eventually, all vision in the center of the eye will dissipate. Patients who complain of slightly blurred vision may be experiencing the initial symptoms of dry AMD. Drusen, or yellow deposits under the retina may be the first definitive symptoms of the disease that a physician may be able to observe. These observations will occur during a dilated eye exam that is conducted by a medical professional.

Individuals who have lost their vision due to age related macular degeneration have a number of options that can help them to deal with this disability. Learning to function with limited vision can be very challenging. There are a number of resources available that can help victims of this illness with special training. With help, those with limited or even extremely low vision can lean to tackle the challenges of every day life. Counseling and classes may be available through various community organizations and medical services. Patients who suffer from age related macular degeneration do not need to be concerned about over using their eyes or using their eyes improperly. Activities such as watching television or, if possible, reading will not cause the disease to progress any faster. In the mean time, there are a number options for treatment that are being explored through research. Study into the genetic factors behind this debilitating condition may yield helpful information on what causes the illness. Some anti inflammatory medications may also offer promise in treating this disease. The possibility of transplanting healthy cells into the areas of the eye that are diseased is also being explored. When believers endure temptation, the Bible provides assurances that God has promised believers a crown of life. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." (James 1:12)

Contracting age related macular degeneration will not necessarily mean that both eyes will be affected. But even if only one eye experiences damage, the patient's overall vision will be impacted. Some patients are able to function by closing or blocking one eye for activities such as read, driving, or any type of detail work. The dry form of AMD is more prevalent than the wet form but it is possible for the illness to begin in the dry stage and eventually take on the characteristics of the wet form. There is no treatment for advanced AMD but there are a number of treatment options that are available for less serious cases.

Among the treatment options available for age related macular degeneration are laser surgery, photodynamic therapy, and special injections. The object of laser surgery is to destroy the abnormal blood vessels in the back of the eye that are the source of the problem. While this treatment can be effective, there is a high risk of new blood vessels forming later. Photodynamic therapy is a combination of injections and light treatments. There are also a number of new drugs that can be injected directly into the eye that have had promising results in helping to control this illness. With the help of a knowledgeable physician, patients can find relief from the symptoms of AMD.

Diabetic Eye Disease

Being diagnosed with diabetic eye disease does not have to end in cataracts, glaucoma, or blindness. Diabetes is a condition in which a person's body does not generate enough or properly use insulin. A hormone needed to convert starches and sugars into energy, insulin plays a vital role in a person's ability to function daily. Doctors have not yet unmasked the cause of diabetes. There have been all types of genetic and environmental investigations into underlying factors like obesity and lack of exercise which appear to play some type of role. Notwithstanding, nearly 8% of the population has been diagnosed as having diabetes while an estimated 5.7 million have not been diagnosed; but suffer the disease unaware. Before a person would be checked for diabetic eye disease, a test called the Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) or another test, the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) is conducted by a health care professional to find out if either diabetes or pre-diabetes exists. The FPG, being the quickest and less expensive of the two, is recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

A person could fall into one of four categories for diabetes. There is pre-diabetes. This is a precautionary stage of diabetes; which means a person can be a future candidate for diabetes and therefore; diabetic eye disease. The blood glucose levels of an individual diagnosed with pre-diabetes reads higher than normal; yet not high enough to be included in the Type 2 diabetes category. More than twice the number of people have pre-diabetes; than any of the other three types of diabetes put together. Type 1 affects five to ten percent of the population. There is a total failure of a person's ability to produce insulin. Children and young adults are the sufferers of this type of diabetes. There are known life complications that can potentially limit their ability to live out full lives. Some specific ailments include celiac disease, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, and ketoacidosis. But, when caught early and treated with care and rigor; both children and adults can fully function and live normal lives. Making annual checks for diabetic eye disease is also essential. Blindness, kidney damage, nerve damage, and heart disease are all conditions that could potentially harm a person with diabetes more readily and easily than someone who produces correct amounts of insulin. Therefore, monitoring blood glucose and taking insulin shots is critical to normalizing a person's hormone levels and thus the ability to function.

While Type 1 diabetes indicates a person's body's failure to produce insulin, Type 2 diabetes shows a person's body's inability to utilize insulin properly. In truth, the body may actually generate enough insulin, but the cells may reject the insulin. In most cases, however, the person has insufficient insulin production in the first place. Type 2 diabetes is actually more prevalent that Type 1. Type 2 diabetes seems to have an ethnic component to it. More Native Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and African Americans seem to be struck with this condition. And beyond that, the older people get, there are higher percentages of people who become diabetic. Most people who have diabetes, have many other health conditions. In addition to the prevalence of diabetic eye disease, a couple of conditions that appear, more often than not, are high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Both of these conditions are known to lead to an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes. When these conditions are combined with diabetes, the problem is multiplied. Better than sixty-five of diabetics eventually succumb to one of these diseases. Furthermore, when a heart attack occurs in a diabetic, it is often earlier in life and more often the person never recovers; resulting in pre mature death. Suffice it to say, that managing a person's diabetes, can not only reduce their cholesterol and high blood pressure, but also reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke.

Another form of diabetes, Gestational diabetes, happens to pregnant women; usually in their third trimester of gestation. Although this condition is much harder on the baby than mom, there is no diabetic eye disease present with this condition. What does happen is that the woman is much more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes (and all that is included) later on in life. Doctors do have some suggestions that they feel will impede the progression of Type 2 diabetes. These are really just common sense behavioral changes. Since the body needs to have regular and rigorous exercise in order to function optimally; health care providers recommend 75 to 150 minutes per week. It could be as little as 15 minutes day, 5 days a week or as much as 50 minutes, three days a week. If the activity is heavier, faster, or harder less time is needed. If the activity is easy, slow, or light a person will have to give a lot more time to it. Everyone can select the routine that is best for themselves; but it's important to remember that a lack of exercise is not good for the body and that Type 2 diabetes is linked with the lack of activity. Eating nutritious, healthy foods that include lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish or poultry will help the body maintain vim and vigor.

A leading cause of blindness in adults, diabetic eye disease includes cataracts and glaucoma. Detection is difficult without an eye exam. Usually before an individual knows they have something wrong, there has been irreparable, irreversible damage to a person's eyesight. Some people have retinal swelling, some leak fluid from blood vessels, others have increased eye pressure. Without a thorough eye exam, all of these conditions are very difficult to detect. Since it has been proven that diabetes suffers have a weak link, there is sufficient motivation to manage blood sugar levels to the best of a person's ability and ultimately to reduce the risk of blindness from diabetic eye disease. You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. (Ezekiel 34:3-4) Whether a person gets a positive diagnoses of the diabetes or pre-diabetes, it is strongly suggested that an annual eye exam be part of their regular health regime.





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