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February is AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month

Age-related Macular Degeneration, which impacts the vision of more than 2 million Americans 50 and older, is one of the leading causes of blindness. Yet many people aren't even aware of the perils of this eye disease, which is why Prevent Blindness America has declared February AMD/Low Vision Month.

February offers medical officials an opportunity to educate the public about AMD, which impairs part of the back of the eye named the macula, which is the center area of the retina. That can lead to blurry vision, or a blind spot in the center of a person's field of vision.

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss for those 65 and older, but there are precautionary steps you can take as you age and your risk increases for this eye disease. You should visit your eye doctor regularly, according to Prevent Blindness America. Secondly, you should be aware if you develop any symptoms, such as seeing straight lines as wavy or noticing a dark spot in the middle of your vision.

There are preventative measures that can be taken to stave off progression of AMD, including not smoking, eating healthy foods, staying active; controlling your blood pressure and protecting your eyes from the sun.

Prevent Blindness America recommends that people, especially those 40 and older, get a dilated-eye exam. That enables physicians to detect if you have an eye disease, even if you're not exhibiting any symptoms yet, and begin treatment.

The Eye Surgery Center at Clara Maass Medical Center (CMMC), an affiliate of the Saint Barnabas Health Care System, performs the most eye surgeries in New Jersey and does dilated-eye exams. For more information on AMD go to www.preventblindness.org, or call 1-888-SBHS-123 (1-888-724-7123).

"AMD can cause progressive or rapid visual loss and even legal blindness," said Michael Landolfi, DO, of The Eye Surgery Center at Clara Maass Medical Center and head adult ophthalmology at the Newark Eye and Ear Infirmary, located on the CMMC campus. "But it is detectable and, in certain instances, treatable. With early detection and treatment by an eye-care specialist, AMD's impact can be curtailed. But to catch the disease in its early stages, people must be familiar with its initial warning signs and who is at the most risk."

The risk factors for AMD include smoking, obesity, being Caucasian, gender (of the 2 million Americans 50 and older that have AMD, 1.3 million are women) and family history, according to the National Eye Institute.

The Eye Surgery Center at Clara Maass Medical Center performs the most eye surgeries in the State of New Jersey. All ophthalmologists and surgeons at The Eye Surgery Center are board-certified and specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of eye problems, diseases and injuries. Clara Maass eye care experts work together to provide comprehensive ophthalmic care in every area of eye disorders and treat patients of all ages—from infants to seniors. State-of-the-art equipment and dedicated ophthalmology suites ensure the deliverance of the most advanced quality eye care. For a physician referral or for more information about Clara Maass Medical Center or The Eye Surgery Center, call 1-888-SBHS-123 or visit www.saintbarnabas.com, and go to Clara Maass Medical Center.

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