14 Facts to Educate Your Patients During AMD Awareness Month


  • AMD Awareness Month is celebrated every February and brings awareness about age-related macular degeneration (AMD) to the forefront of eye care. 
  • AMD is the leading cause of blindness in older people in the U.S., making it vital for optometrists to educate patients about the condition. 
  • Sharing important facts about AMD with your patients and encouraging routine eye care can help them detect or manage AMD and protect their vision.

AMD Awareness Month happens every February and encourages everyone to understand the causes, symptoms, and prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As an optometrist, you can help your patients care for their eye health by sharing facts about the condition during AMD Awareness Month and recommending regular comprehensive exams.

History of AMD Awareness Month

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects an estimated 18 million Americans and is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50 in the U.S. The number of people affected by AMD is expected to grow as more of the country’s 73 million baby boomers reach the age of 65.

AMD Awareness Month was started by Prevent Blindness in 2008 to raise awareness about the condition and encourage patients to seek early treatment from their optometrists. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reminds people that routine eye care and early-stage interventions are the best way to detect or prevent AMD and that those currently living with the condition can seek modern treatments to manage their symptoms.

14 Facts About AMD to Share with Your Patients

As part of ongoing optometry patient education, you can share important facts about AMD at your practice and online this February. The following information highlights the risk factors of AMD and can help your patients make practical lifestyle and eye care choices to prevent or manage the condition.

1. AMD is the Leading Cause of Adult Blindness in America

Approximately 20 million American adults experience some form of AMD, with around 1.6 million experiencing irreversible late-stage AMD. Once AMD reaches the late stages, it causes central vision loss.

2. Too Much Sunlight Can Increase AMD Risk

Sunlight is the primary source of UV-A radiation, which can cause oxidative damage to the retina, leading to the formation of yellow deposits called drusen. Enlarged drusen is a primary indicator of AMD.

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3. Your Diet Can Reduce Your Risk of AMD

Obesity and high cholesterol are two risk factors for developing AMD. However, you may be able to reduce your AMD risk by modifying your diet. A study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that adherence to a Mediterranean diet high in antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, and legumes can reduce the progression of AMD.

4. 65% of AMD Cases Are Women

While biological sex is not the primary determining factor behind AMD, women have a higher prevalence of AMD than men. This may be due to women’s longer life expectancy because the risk of developing AMD increases with age.

5. AMD is More Prevalent in Caucasian Populations

AMD can affect people of all races; however, a 2016 study showed that people of caucasian descent had a higher prevalence of AMD. 5.4% of non-Hispanic white Americans participating in the had AMD, while the lowest incidence was seen in Black participants at only 2.4%.

6. Routine Eye Care Can Prevent Irreversible Vision Loss

Around 22.7% of people with early-stage AMD experience an onset of symptoms over about 15 years. Although there is no cure for AMD, routine eye care can help detect it early and manage symptoms with progression monitoring, lifestyle changes, and special dietary supplements. Regular in-person and virtual appointments help screen for AMD symptoms early on and can improve long-term outcomes.

7. Smoking is the Leading Modifiable Risk for AMD

Smoking is a major risk factor for AMD and has consistently been linked to an increased risk of developing the disease. A 2020 study recently demonstrated that smokers are two to four times more likely than nonsmokers to develop AMD. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk.

8. Impaired Dark Adaption is the Initial Biomarker of AMD

Impaired dark adaptation, or the ability of the eyes to adjust from light to dark conditions, is one of the first markers of AMD. People with abnormal dark adaptation were twice as likely to have AMD in the affected eye just three years later.

9. A Higher BMI May Mean an Increased AMD Risk

People with a BMI greater than 30 may be at an increased risk of developing AMD. Obese individuals exhibit elevated pro-inflammatory factors such as cytokines, which can disrupt retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) function. The RPE is the body’s first line of defense against AMD. Without an optimally functioning RPE, debris builds up in the eye, contributing to drusen formation and leading to AMD.

10. 10% of People With Dry AMD Will Develop Wet AMD Markers

Dry AMD affects about 80% of people with the condition and results in a slow decline in vision. However, about 10% of people with dry AMD will develop wet AMD, which causes much faster, more severe vision loss. Wet AMD is responsible for 90% of blindness and can cause retinal bleeding or fluid accumulation.

11. AMD Can Increase Mortality Risk by 20%

AMD can increase mortality risk by around 20%. The condition can also increase the risk for cardiovascular disease by 46% and puts patients at a two times higher risk of negative impacts on their quality of life. Suffering from AMD is associated with a higher risk for depression, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease.

12. AMD-Related Blindness Results in $5,000 in Extra Costs Per Year

A 2021 study found that the cost of living for blind individuals is around $5,000 more than for those without vision impairments. According to the piece, the societal cost of blindness caused by AMD and other vision disorders equals around $20 billion and is expected to triple by the year 2050.

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13. Physical Activity May Slow the Progression of AMD

Regular exercise may have a positive impact on the progression of AMD by increasing antioxidant enzyme activity. Studies have found that physical activity is associated with lower odds of both early and late stages of AMD, so engaging in regular physical activity may be beneficial in slowing down the progression of AMD.

14. Specialized Care for AMD is Available

Detecting AMD early can help patients monitor the disease’s progression and make lifestyle changes like diet modification, weight management, and quitting smoking. While there is no cure for AMD, several treatments are available to prevent further vision loss in patients with early-stage disease, including anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy and photodynamic therapy (PDT), which uses a combination of injections and laser treatment.

This AMD Awareness Month, Help Your Patients Protect Their Vision

Sharing AMD facts with your patients can help them protect their vision and prevent blindness. Consider creating a patient handout, an email campaign, or a social media post to get the word out about AMD Awareness Month at your practice. You can also send reminders to encourage your patients to book an appointment for a comprehensive exam to look for signs of AMD and take care of their general eye health.

Book a demo with a RevolutionEHR Specialist to learn how a cloud-based optometry practice management software gives you the freedom to focus on your patients and care for AMD symptoms.

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