AMD – what does it mean?

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

AMD – what does it mean?

Cases of visual impairment are increasing across the globe. Loss of vision, whether partial or complete, can be caused by a wide variety of factors, some of which are present at birth while others emerge over time. Some individuals living with neurological or developmental disorders, for instance, are at an increased risk of visual impairment, as are those with diabetes or a family history of specific conditions. Lifestyle factors such as smoking or a poor diet can also contribute to vision loss in later life.

There are solutions available to support individuals, such as corrective eyewear and surgical procedures, but difficulties with vision can still have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. As such, visual health is now recognized as one of the leading health concerns for consumers in Germany.

Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, can develop as we age. It causes damage to the central part of the eye called the macula, which is important for maintaining sharp, detailed vision, and which harbors a pigment layer that helps to protect the macula. AMD typically leads to loss of central vision, blurred sight and blindness.

While age is the leading cause of AMD, the way we choose to live can also have an impact. Smoking, for instance, has been found to increase the risk of AMD, as well as exposure to blue light from screens on digital devices like computers and smartphones. With people living longer than ever before, taking steps to reduce the risk of AMD throughout life is essential for maintaining good vision as we age.

It has been estimated that more than 80% of all vision impairment could be prevented or cured.[1]Through continuous education and close ongoing collaboration with consumers, opticians can provide comprehensive eye health consultations and educate people on how to better protect eye health throughout their life.

Using fast and accurate measurements and diagnostics, opticians can make recommendations that are specifically based on their customers’ requirements – such as targeted eye health nutritional supplements and specialist protective eyewear. Providing broader portfolios that offer these solutions enables a more holistic, comprehensive approach to visual health, enhancing consumer understanding of the importance of a preventative approach and helping to nurture an ongoing, long-term bond with customers.

 

The eye

The human eye is exposed to many stimuli on a day-to-day basis, such as light from sources like natural sunlight and artificial light from light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Eyes play a significant role in everyday life by helping to detect and process these stimuli, providing a window to the world around us.

Due to changes in lifestyles, however, our vision is at greater risk of damage than ever before. It is increasingly important that eye health becomes a priority for consumers and opticians alike – with a greater focus on preventing, rather than solely treating, potential issues to ensure optimal eye health throughout life.

 

Blue light exposure

While light is widely recognized for its role in a number of physiological processes in nature, including those within the human body, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that some light sources can have a detrimental impact on eye health. Blue light radiation, for instance, which is commonly emitted from digital devices with screens such as computers, smartphones and tablets, may lead to long-term, irreversible damage to eye health in individuals of all ages.

Natural sunlight is also a source of blue light, meaning that – when combined with an increasing reliance on digital technology – individuals today are exposed to more of this radiation than in previous generations. This presents a significant public health problem as, when exposed for a prolonged period of time, the risk of adverse effects on eye health increases. Blue light may, for instance, contribute to a greater risk of:

  • AMD, a leading cause of blindness and visual impairment[2]
  • Eye strain and computer vision syndrome (CVS)[3]
  • Sleeping difficulties[4]

[1] WHO, „Blindness and visual impairment“, [webseite], 2017, http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/blindness-and-visual-impairment (accessed on 23. August 2018).

[2]J. Dillon et al., „Transmission of light to the aging human retina: possible implications for age related macular degeneration“, Experimental Eye Research, vol. 79, no. 6, 2004, pp. 753–759.

[3] American Optometric Association, „Computer Vision Syndrome“, [webseite], 2018, https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome?sso=y (accessed on 14. August 2018).

[4]G. Tosini, „Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology“, Molecular Vision, vol. 22, no. 1, 2016, pp. 61–72.

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