Chennai: “Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is prevalent in 21 per cent of the rural population and 16 per cent of the urban population in Tamilnadu. It is among the leading causes of visual loss in the elderly people,” said ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at Sankara Nethralaya, Dr Rajiv Raman on Tuesday on the occasion of World Senior Citizen’s Day.
Speaking to ‘News Today’, Dr Rajiv Raman and Dr Vinata Rajendran, a senior consultant at vitreoretinal services in Sankara Netralaya said we need to raise awareness about AMD as people usually tend to postpone treatment until its too late. They stressed that early detection and treatment is necessary for AMD as it has no permanent cure.
HOW TO DETECT?
“AMD symptoms include blurred or fuzzy vision, straight lines may appear wavy or crooked, decreased contrast or colour sensitivity, difficulty in seeing distant or small but growing subjects, blind spot in the centre of vision and so on,” Dr Rajiv explained.
He said,”In a study done by Sankara Nethralaya covering urban population of Chennai and rural population of Kanchipuram and TiruvaIlur, we found that every 5th individual who was above age 60 has early stages of Age-related Macular Degeneration.”
The main cause for AMD in Indian population is smokeless tobacco. It is also prevalent in people with obesity and high blood pressure. “Taking care of these can go a long way toward preventing AMD,” said Dr Rajiv.
LEADS TO DEPRESSION
Studies have revealed that nearly one-third of AMD patients were depressed. The rate of depression amongst elderly AMD patients is substantially higher than depression due to other reasons.
Rajiv said,”The visual impairment can bring about a loss of independence and lack of control over one’s life. It gives the elderly a sense of helplessness. It will lower a person’s quality of life.”
PREVENTION BETTER THAN CURE
Dr Rajiv said,”Following a healthy, balanced and nutritional diet boosts good eye health. All vegetables and fruits which are rich in lutein like green leafy vegetables, corn, nuts, beans, etc are good for eye health. AMD has no permanent cure. But there are effective treatment options that can reverse, slow or halt its progression in some cases.”
Dr Rajiv said,”Treatment can prove more effective if AMD is diagnosed early. Some of the treatment options available in India include laser photocoagulation, anti-VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) injections and combination therapy which includes laser and anti-VEGF treatments.”
“Unlike other diseases, AMD does not need continuous medical care. Four or five sessions are enough to halt the progression of the disease.”