SUNDAY, Feb. 17, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- As part of its efforts to educate Americans about age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Prevent Blindness America has declared February Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month.
AMD -- a progressive disease that damages central vision -- costs the U.S. economy $570 million a year in direct costs for outpatient and inpatient care, and prescription drugs, the nonprofit group said.
Even though AMD affects 15 million people in the United States and is the leading cause of vision loss among people aged 55 and older, only 30 percent of Americans are familiar with the disease, according to research by AMD Alliance International.
"We are seeing some promising results from research studies around the world in regards to understanding AMD and the best methods to treat it," Daniel D. Garrett, senior vice president of Prevent Blindness America and AMD Alliance International board member, said in a prepared statement.
"But even with the latest drug therapies, we are still waiting for a cure. Until that happens, the best way to save vision is through regular vision care with your eye care professional," he said.
To help people learn more about the disease, Prevent Blindness America offers a free educational online resource called The AMD Learning Center. The group also reminds people that there's a link between healthy lifestyle habits and health eyes. You can reduce your risk of eye disease and vision loss if you:
- Eat healthy foods high in antioxidants, such as leafy green vegetables, and foods high in zinc and beta carotene.
- Avoid trans fats.
- Don't smoke.
- Control blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Exercise regularly.
- Visit your eye doctor regularly.
The U.S. National Eye Institute has more about AMD.