We put a lot of trust in our doctors, as they are the ones that spend several years at medical school. So, they should always know what’s wrong with us, right?
Well, not quite.
A new study suggests that there is a serious health problem affecting many adults, yet many of them go completely undiagnosed. This can have long-term detrimental effects to a person’s health.
The condition we are discussing is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and it is the leading cause of blindness in America.
AMD often goes undiagnosed: Study
The study involved 644 seniors (over the age of 60) who had normal eye vision based on their most recent eye examinations. When the research team re-examined the participants’ vision, 25 percent showed evidence of age-related macular degeneration.
The research team is unsure why the participant’s original eye examination would miss a diagnosis of AMD. But, the authors said, “as treatments for the earliest stages of AMD are developed in the coming years, correct identification of AMD in primary eye care will be critical for routing patients to treatment as soon as possible so that the disease can be treated in its earliest phases and central vision loss avoided.”
It is estimated that 14 million Americans live with AMD, which can occur as early as 40.
Dr. Mark Fromer, who was not involved in the study, added, “It is imperative that the highest standards be adhered to in the detection of this commonplace disease. A dilated examination — with careful inspection of the eye’s macula [center of the retina] — is necessary to determine if there are characteristic findings of this disease in the patient.”
Although age-related macular degeneration cannot be cured or entirely prevented, lifestyle changes and habits can go a long way in protecting a person’s vision and slowing down the progress of AMD.
Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and controlling other health conditions—especially high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes—can ensure you have a greater chance of maintaining your vision for years to come.