AMD Awareness Month and the importance of early screening

AMD Awareness MonthFebruary is AMD Awareness Month, an annual initiative from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) designed to raise awareness of the USA’s leading cause of vision loss.

Age-related macular degeneration affects millions of Americans; 2.1 million over 50s have late AMD and 9.1 million had early AMD in 2010. What is more concerning is that these numbers are expected to increase to over 5 million by 2050. The prevalence of AMD is why initiatives like AMD Awareness Month are vital and rely on the support of eye health professionals to spread the word.

This year’s campaign focuses on reminding people that treatment has advanced a great deal in the last decade, meaning AMD is more manageable and vision can be saved. This message comes with an important note though; early detection of the condition is the ‘critical first step.’

Early screening should be encouraged at primary-care level , to help prevent AMD developing or to find the disease in its early stages, when it is most treatable. The risk of AMD increases with age so a proactive approach fromeye care professionals will help capture warning signs as early as possible.

This approach starts with emphasising the importance of regular eye examinations before the age of 50, and implementing AMD screening programmes for the over 50s.

Low macular pigment (MP) is a significant modifiable risk factor for developing AMD and once detected it can be managed and increased. A patient showing signs of low MP can be advised to make lifestyle changes or take lutein and zeaxanthin supplements. Such an approach will help more people fend off AMD instead of falling victim to sight loss and the costly treatment that follows.

AMD Awareness Month 2017 is an ideal time for eye care professionals to review how they communicate with their patients about the condition and increase rates of early screening.

Our macular pigment screener, the MPS II, is designed to enable early detection of patients at risk of AMD, by accurately measuring macular pigment levels.

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