Macular Degeneration An Elder Health Care Threat


eyetest, elder health care, macular degeneration

by Janice Wallace

Macular degeneration threatens elder health care and quality of life.  It creates a hole in the middle of the field of vision.  Seniors lose the ability to read, drive a car and recognize faces.  Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the top cause of blindness in seniors. AMD creates an elder health care threat because visually impaired seniors are much more likely to fall.

When my dad told me he had been diagnosed with macular degeneration, I was worried.  At age 86, my dad leads an independent life.  What would happen to him and our family if he became blind and needed our day to day help?

I’m happy to report that three years later, my dad is still reading, driving and living in his own home.  He gets regular eye exams every six months and takes a multivitamin specially designed to promote eye health.  Like many seniors, my dad has age related macular degeneration which progresses very slowly.

Detecting macular generation

Regular eye exams are a key elder health care tool to detect AMD and other eye diseases that affect elders. Advancing age is the main risk factor that your parent may develop macular degeneration.

AMD can be developing without your parent’s knowledge because her vision is deteriorating gradually and painlessly.  Luckily there is an easy at-home test called the Amsler grid that your parent can use to watch for signs of AMD.  Any distortions your parent sees when viewing the grid should be discussed with her eye doctor immediately.

Warning signs that a thorough eye exam is required:

  • A need for more light when reading
  • Trouble adapting to low light situations like entering a dark room
  • Changes to your central area of vision including trouble recognizing faces or blank spots
  • The intensity of colors is reduced.
  • Distortions when viewing an Amsler grid.

There are two types of macular degeneration dry and wet. While there is currently no treatment to halt or reverse dry macular generation, your parent’s doctor may recommend special vitamins for the eye.  Wet macular degeneration is the faster moving form of the disease. There are treatments available.

If your parent is diagnosed with AMD, you can help by

  • Being supportive and encouraging
  • Help your parent learn more about AMD and stay up to date on new treatments
  • If your parent’s macular degeneration becomes advanced, visit local resources for the visually impaired to learn how she can cope with advanced AMD

Is your parent coping with AMD?   How is your family handling this elder health care challenge?

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