Age-related macular degeneration is something all ages should know about

Lauren Scott’s 83-year-old mother, Lorraine Callandrillo, was diagnosed with macular degeneration four years ago. Scott, who lives in Clifton, says her mother’s disease has been progressing slowly: “She can still read, but it’s becoming more difficult for her. She’s really been keeping on top of it, though. She wears her sunglasses and she’s been taking vitamins — a formula called Ocuvite, that her doctor recommended.”
Scott, who is 51, hasn’t had her own eyes checked in more than a year. “And that was only because I had a stye. Otherwise, I don’t think most people go for eye checkups. And even if they do, it’s probably not for macular degeneration — to them that’s an old person’s disease.”
Michael Hellegers of Totowa is 32 and was told by his ophthalmologist six years ago that he was at high risk for the illness, which is also known as AMD — age-related macular degeneration. “I’ve always had bad vision, so I do go for regular exams,” Hellegers says. “But I was surprised when my doctor told me he was very concerned about my right eye. And macular degeneration? My grandmother had it really bad. I knew older people got it, but my doctor said that, based on the images he’d taken, I was absolutely going to get it.”
On his doctor’s advice, Hellegers got prescription sunglasses, began taking vitamins and changed his eating habits, adding more fruits and leafy greens to his diet. “At my last doctor’s visit,” Hellegers says, “I was tested again. He showed me the old and new images, side by side, and said the condition was almost completely reversed. So it’s not just an old person’s thing. And it makes sense to be tested early for it.”
In the late 1980s, former first lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, who died in 2007, became one of the first well-known people to talk publicly about her macular degeneration. Today, actresses Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Roseanne Barr are all coping with the illness and have discussed their varying degrees of vision loss. (Barr, who is 63, also has glaucoma.)
The U.S. National Eye Institute describes AMD as a disease that “causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead.”
AMD progresses slowly in some patients, who may experience a gradual loss of vision over many years. In other patients, the disease strikes quickly and can lead to complete loss of vision in the affected eye or eyes. (AMD does not necessarily occur in both eyes at once. In certain cases, known as wet AMD, small blood vessels behind the retina rupture and cause bleeding.)…….
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Source: North