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Macular Degeneration

What you need to know about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Content source from CDC

Couple Wearing Glasses

Many older adults think vision loss is just a normal part of aging, but it doesn’t have to be. You can take many steps to reduce your risk of vision loss by learning about age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Meet Mary and James


This is Mary and her husband James. They are both 70 years old. About 5 years ago, Mary found she had a hard time reading the newspaper in low light, and sometimes the lines seemed a little distorted. She didn’t worry about it much at the time. However, recently she was reading her favorite book and noticed the middle of the page had become blurry. She knew this was a bad sign and asked James to take her to her doctor, who referred Mary to an eye doctor.

The eye doctor quickly diagnosed Mary with the dry form of AMD. Mary remembered her father losing vision in one eye, but she had not thought about this family history before. Mary’s children are now aware of the family history too and have been encouraged by their doctor to avoid smoking, which significantly increases the risk of developing AMD and many other serious health conditions. Although Mary can no longer drive and has some problems with day-to-day activities because of AMD, she has found new and creative ways to keep doing some of the activities she most enjoys. She uses a magnifying glass with a light for reading and has downloaded software to her computer that makes the text on her screen bigger. Mary learned there is no single proven treatment for the dry form of AMD, but her eye doctor recommended she take antioxidant vitamins and zinc, which can slow the progress of the disease to more advanced stages, when she might need vision rehabilitation.

More About AMD

AMD is a major cause of blindness worldwide and is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness for Americans aged 65 years and older. The number of older Americans is projected to nearly double from 48 million to 88 million in 2050. As Mary’s story shows, AMD destroys the sharp, central vision needed to see clearly. This loss can affect daily activities like reading text on the computer, phone, or newspaper; driving; and watching television. Here are some facts about AMD:

  • AMD comes in both wet and dry forms.
  • The wet type is the more advanced and damaging form.
  • Most dry forms of AMD do not progress to the wet form, but the wet form can lead to severe and permanent loss of central vision.
  • If AMD does progress to the wet stage, therapies such as injections and laser treatments can help.
  • People with a family history of AMD are at greater risk of AMD.1
  • AMD affects whites more often than other races and ethnicities, such as African Americans and Hispanics.2
  • Smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are risk factors for AMD.3,4

Man with arms outstretched trying to read a book

Words getting blurry? Visit your eye doctor to get checked for AMD.

What You Can Do

Mary didn’t remember that her father lost vision in one eye until after she had vision problems of her own. Telling your eye doctor about your family history and getting regular eye exams can help you find out about the disease early, when treatments can be most effective. Quitting smoking, or never starting, is an important way to prevent AMD. Having a healthy lifestyle and lowering cholesterol can help lower your risk for AMD and also help prevent the dry form of the disease from progressing to the wet form, which can cause permanent vision loss.

The Age-Related Disease Studies found that getting certain vitamins and minerals every day may slow the progression of the disease from the early or middle stages to the later stages. Specifically, combinations of the following vitamins can reduce risk of late AMD by 25%:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Zinc
  • Copper

Green, leafy vegetables have large amounts of many of these vitamins.

If AMD progresses to later stages, your eye doctor may use other therapies, such as injections and laser treatment.

If vision loss does occur, there are vision rehabilitation services and devices to help you use your remaining vision as well as you can. Speak to your eye doctor about new technologies such as magnifiers and telescopic glasses, and ask about resources for low vision in your area.

It’s always a good time to take steps to reduce your risk for eye problems such as AMD. Talk to your friends and family about the importance of having a healthy lifestyle and scheduling comprehensive eye exams to help prevent permanent vision loss. Take a tip from Mary and don’t wait! Take action now!

More Information


  1. Cheng, Q. (2014). Age-related Macular Degeneration and Vascular and Renal Comorbidities in Adults Aged 40 Years or Older: NHANES 2005-2008.
  2. Lim, L. S., Mitchell, P., Seddon, J. M., Holz, F. G., & Wong, T. Y. (2012). Age-related macular degeneration. The Lancet, 379(9827), 1728-1738.
  3. Wu, J., Uchino, M., Sastry, S. M., & Schaumberg, D. A. (2014). Age-related macular degeneration and the incidence of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 9(3), e89600.
  4. Fisher, D. E., Klein, B. E., Wong, T. Y., Rotter, J. I., Li, X., Shrager, S., … & Cotch, M. F. (2016). Incidence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration in a Multi-Ethnic United States Population: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Ophthalmology.

Why Are Blue Eyes More Sensitive To Light?

Why Do Your Eyes Need Sun Protection?

Eyes of all colors need shielding from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Exposure to UV light can contribute to the formation of short-term and long-term eye conditions such as corneal sunburn and macular degeneration.

That’s why it’s so important to choose high-quality Sunwear with 100% UV blocking lenses and to throw on a sun hat for an added layer of protection.

UV protection is important for individuals of all ages—especially children—who are more susceptible than adults to the sun’s harmful rays and tend to spend more time outdoors. It is estimated that up to 80% of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV rays happens before the age of 18.

Why are Blue Eyes More Sensitive to Light?

Lighter-colored eyes like blue, hazel, and green have less of a pigment called ‘melanin’ than brown eyes do.

Melanin helps protect the retina from UV damage and blue light, putting those with blue eyes at a higher risk of developing UV-related eye damage.

If you have blue eyes, you may have experienced this first-hand. Bright light may be uncomfortable or you may want to reach for your shades as soon as you leave the house on a sunny day.

That’s why optometrists urge blue-eyed patients to be particularly vigilant about UV protection, so as to mitigate their chances of developing eye disease and other complications.

How We Can Help

Whether you have blue eyes or not, sunglasses are an important part of keeping your eyes healthy for a lifetime.

At Family Eye Professionals, we’ll be happy to advise on the perfect high-quality and protective pair of sunglasses to suit your needs and personal style.

Family Eye Professionals, your Chicago Ridge eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT


Should I wear sunglasses even when it’s not sunny outside?

Yes! You should wear your sunglasses whenever outdoors during the day, even on an overcast, winter day. UV light can pass through clouds and reflect off surfaces like car windows and pavement.

What type of sunglasses are the most suitable for blue eyes?

The most protective sunglasses are wraparound sunglasses that protect the eyes from every angle. You can also opt for photochromic lenses, which offer total UV protection but only become tinted when exposed to outdoor sunlight, and turn clear when you come indoors again. Your optometrist can help you choose the best lens and frame options for your needs and lifestyle.

Why Are Dilated Eye Exams So Important?

Family Eye Professionals Dilated Eye Exam near you in Chicago Ridge, Illinois

Having your eyes dilated during an eye exam may seem like a nuisance. But when you consider the benefits of a dilated eye exam, the temporary blurred vision and sensitivity to light that typically follow are definitely worth it.

What Are Dilated Eye Exams?

At some point during a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will shine a bright light into your eyes to examine the back of your eye, called the retina. The problem is that bright light causes the size of the pupil’s opening to shrink, which makes it hard for the optometrist to see a large portion of the retina.

That’s why eye doctors apply special eye drops in each eye to keep the pupils open. A dilated pupil allows for a much more accurate assessment of your eye’s structures, including the focusing lens, blood vessels and tissues at the back of the eye called the retina, as well as the optic nerve and macula.

Dilating the eyes makes it easier for your optometrist to detect the following conditions and diseases:

It’s important to note that many of these conditions can develop without noticeable symptoms, until they cause vision loss at which point treatment may be more challenging, making dilated eye exams all the more crucial.

The Dilation Process

First, your eye doctor will apply eye drops to each eye to trigger dilation of the pupil. Your eyes should be fully dilated about 10-20 minutes later.

Your eyes will remain dilated for 4-6 hours, and during this time you may be sensitive to light. That’s because the larger pupil allows more light than usual to enter the eye. Many patients find it more comfortable to wear sunglasses until their eyes return to normal.

Reading and using a computer may be difficult with dilated eyes, and your vision may be blurred. Some patients report feeling a tightening sensation in their eyelids, or headaches.

Dilated eye exams are a crucial part of keeping your eyes healthy. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call Family Eye Professionals in Chicago Ridge today!

Family Eye Professionals, your Chicago Ridge eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT


At what age should one have a dilated eye exam?

You should have your dilated eye exam no matter your age. Most eye doctors will dilate a new patient at their first exam regardless of age to get a baseline of their retinal health.

Will I be able to return to work after a dilated eye exam?

Everyone reacts differently, so it’s hard to tell. If your job requires you to focus on small print or detail, it may be challenging. Typing and writing may also be difficult with dilated pupils. To be on the safe side, book your appointment at the end of your work day, clear your schedule after your eye exam and only plan to do activities which aren’t visually demanding.

Are You Susceptible To Vision Loss?

Ask Our Eye Doctor in Chicago Ridge, Illinois, how To Prevent Vision Loss

Vision loss is more common than you may think! In fact, it’s among the most prevalent disabilities in adults and children. Knowing what puts you at risk of developing vision loss is important and can help you to be proactive about caring for your eyes.

Below, we’ll explore the most common causes of vision loss and the risk factors associated with each.

Spreading awareness and education about visual health is just one way that our eye doctors near you can help. To schedule your Comprehensive eye exam, call us today 708-930-5735.


Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases caused by a buildup of pressure within the eye. Too much inner-eye pressure can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss.

Since symptoms don’t usually manifest in the early stages of glaucoma, getting regular eye exams is all the more crucial. Advanced or rapidly progressing glaucoma can show a variety of symptoms, such as blurred vision, headache, severe eye pain and redness, seeing halos around lights, and nausea.

Risk factors for developing glaucoma include:

  • Being 60 years or older
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • African, Asian, or Hispanic descent
  • High myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Previous eye injury or certain eye surgeries
  • Certain medications, like corticosteroids
  • Thin corneas
  • Certain medical conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and sickle-cell anemia


Cataracts occur when the eye’s lens becomes cloudy. A healthy lens is clear and allows light to pass through it undisturbed.

Common cataract symptoms include cloudy or blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night, light sensitivity, double vision in the affected eye, and seeing colors as faded or yellowish.

Risk factors for developing cataracts include:

  • Aging
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Previous eye surgery, injury, or inflammation
  • Alcoholism
  • Extended use of corticosteroids

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over the age of 60. It occurs when the macula (the small central portion of the retina, which is responsible for sharp, colorful, central vision) begins to wear down.

Early stages of AMD usually go unnoticed, but later stages of the disease can produce symptoms like blurred vision, dark or blurry areas in your central vision, and problems with color perception.

There’s not yet a cure for AMD, but certain treatments can help prevent vision loss.

Risk factors for developing AMD include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Aging
  • Long-term sun exposure
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Family history of AMD
  • Light-colored eyes
  • Farsightedness

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a complication of Type 1 or 2 diabetes that affects the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye called the retina.

Initially, diabetic retinopathy shows no symptoms but can eventually lead to blindness. As it develops, it can cause increased floaters, impaired color vision, dark spots in your visual field, and blurred vision.

Risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Length of time from diabetes diagnosis — the longer you’ve had it, the higher your chances of developing visual complications
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol or blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • African American, Hispanic, and Native American ethnicities
  • Family history of DR

So, what’s the bottom line?

Multiple factors contribute to eye disease and vision loss, and some may even be relevant to you. If you think you may be at risk for vision loss or experience any of the symptoms listed above, speak with your eye doctor in Chicago Ridge as soon as possible. We also recommend you have your eyes thoroughly examined every 1-2 years, or as often as your eye doctor recommends. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call Family Eye Professionals today.

Book an eye exam at an eye clinic near you to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you.

Family Eye Professionals, your Chicago Ridge eye doctor for eye exams and Contact lenses

Alternatively, book an appointment online here CLICK FOR AN APPOINTMENT


Can blindness be prevented?

When caught early, many eye diseases can be treated to halt or slow the progression of the disease and potentially prevent vision loss. The best things you can do to preserve your vision for the long term is to lead a healthy lifestyle and make sure you undergo a comprehensive eye exam every 1-2 years.

Which eye diseases are genetically inherited?

More than 350 ocular diseases have some sort of genetic component. Certain diseases, like retinitis pigmentosa and albinism, are directly inherited through chromosomal information. In other cases, a predisposition to the disease is inherited, rather than the disease itself.


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