February is Age Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month (AMD)

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Age related macular degeneration is an eye disease which results in loss of vision. There are two forms of AMD, dry AMD and wet AMD.

Dry AMD otherwise known as Atrophic AMD is a progressive loss of cones in the area of the macular, the part of the retina used for direct vision. When this happen lipids turn to gradually spread beneath the retina causing it to protrude forward a condition referred as drusen, this interferes with circulation and may result in further damage to the macular.

Wet AMD also known as exudative macular degeneration occurs when the retina starts forming new vessels as a results of loss of circulation to provide perfusion. The process is termed as neovascularization and most often than not the new blood vessels bleed, this leads to the formation of a new membrane underneath the retina. Wet AMD has a higher propensity to deteriorate vision more than Dry AMD. 10% of patients that present with AMD have Wet AMD and it known to account for 90% of cases of severe loss of vision.

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Symptoms of Age Related Macular Degeneration

  1. Objects are distorted in vision
  2. Straight line tend to appear wavy
  3. Part of object may disappear, a condition known as metamorphosia
  4. In low contrast vision is noticed to reduce drastically

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Diagnosis of AMD
Most often patients would only present themselves to the clinic when they notice one or more of the symptoms discussed, diagnosis process involves the use of the amsler grid chart, a simple tool and a simple process that can be done at home even before visiting the eye clinic and ophthalmoscopy to confirm the changes occurring in the fundus to rule out the specifics of the condition. The amsler’s grid is made up of grids forming a small squares and a larger square for the whole chart, patient is to look in the middle dotted part and to report if any of the lines appear wavy, distorted or seems to disappear. This would be a great indication of AMD changes in the retina, further test would need to be done nonetheless.

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Management of AMD
Management processes include medication and surgery. Note however the therapy forms are aimed at reducing the severity of the disease, they do not cure the condition. Photodynamic therapy with verteporfin is used in the treatment of Wet AMD and according to a research conducted by Mittra and Singerman in the year 2002 it significantly reduced the risk of moderate and severe vision loss. Medications used in the treatment process include macugen, which blocks the vascular endothelial growth factors hence preventing the proliferation of new blood vessels on the retina, statin and aspirin therapy and intravitreal triamcinolone acetonide.

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How do I Prevent AMD?
There are known risk factors for the condition, they include but not limited to;

  1. Age
  2. Genetic predisposition
  3. Irides of lighter color
  4. More exposure to the sun’s radiation
  5. Smoking
  6. Lack of antioxidants in diet.
    Taking care of these risk factors may help reduce your chance of getting AMD however it is not a strict preventive measure.

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Wet AMD or neovascular AMD is known to be a frequent cause of visual impairment and blindness in the older population and although therapy is known to significantly improve vision individuals who had early detection have better prognosis hence it has become very essential for it to be detected and early and the appropriate referral systems put into place. Increasing awareness among the public is priority to lead more patients with AMD to be detected earlier than they would have.

Help spread the word, AMD causes blindness, get your eyes checked more frequently if you are forty years and above.

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What is @bettervision about?

@bettervision is is a project initiated by @nattybongo and friends to give back to the society the knowledge and skill acquired through the Optometric Studies in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana.It is an outreach system where we visit the less privileged communities to offer free eye screening services and education to the people within the community

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
To reduce or prevent vision loss through diseases such as glaucoma, cataract and refractive errors.

To enlighten the majority of the Ghanaian population about the importance of proper visual care.

To conscientize people on the need for regular eye checks

To get more people to have their wards screened within the Critical periods of a Child’s Vision Development; thus from ages 3 to till about 10 years.

To help the blind and people with low vision live a better life within the society through education of the general public to stop stigmatization.

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Our greatest gratitude goes to @fundition @adollaraday @surfyogi @girlsfoundation @bleepcoin @ackza @indigoocean @nanzo-scoop @steemstem @demotruk @pennsif @steem-ambassador @kasho and @wafrica for helping to make the aims and objectives of @bettervision a reality.

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