For Canadians over the age of 60, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of vision loss. In fact, it accounts for 90 per cent of new cases of legal blindness in Canada, yet only 31 per cent of Canadians are aware of the condition or the risk factors associated with it. As February marks AMD Awareness Month, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) wants to educate Canadians on the various complications, associated risk factors and innovations surrounding detection and treatment of AMD.
AMD is a degenerative condition that affects the macula, a part of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly and perform activities such as reading, driving and recognising faces. AMD happens when the “seeing cells” in the macula break down or deteriorate. Apart from age, other risk factors for AMD include smoking and family history.
“We are committed to raising awareness and educating Canadians on the importance of early detection and management of AMD,” says Dr. Phil Hooper, President of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. “At the onset, the person may not be aware of the symptoms, especially if only one eye is affected, but your eye doctor can detect the findings and offer advice on how to slow disease progression. Therefore, it’s crucial for Canadians to have their eyes checked regularly by an eye care professional who can detect the disease early, and ensure necessary treatment.”
There are two types of AMD and the most common is atrophic, or ‘dry’ AMD, which accounts for 90 per cent of all cases. Dry AMD causes you to slowly lose your central vision.
Exudative or ‘wet’ AMD is less common but more serious as it can lead to vision loss more quickly, so treatment is time-sensitive. People with this condition should check vision in each eye regularly using an Amsler grid.
While the Amsler grid isn’t used to diagnose AMD and shouldn’t replace regular, comprehensive eye exams, it is a useful screening tool and can show early problem spots in your field of vision.
”Over the last 50 years, there has been remarkable innovation in the field of Ophthalmology and the next decade will see some exciting advancements in the treatment of AMD,” Dr. Varun Chaudhary, Chief of Ophthalmology and Professor of Surgery at McMaster University, and a member of the COS. “Along with the development of new drugs to treat wet AMD we expect to see drugs to treat dry AMD become available, as well as the development of home imaging technologies to better monitor patients with AMD.”
While each person may experience AMD differently, the most common symptoms include:
- a gradual or sudden change in the quality of your vision
- straight lines appear wavy or distorted
- dark, blurry areas or areas of vision loss that appear in the center of your vision
- in rare cases, you may have a change in your perception of colour
A 2022 national survey conducted by COS, in partnership with the Canadian Association of Optometrists, identified gaps in the vision health system to help guide future interventions and address eye health issues across the country along with a critical need to create a National Vision Health Desk at the Public Health Agency of Canada and develop and implement a National Vision Strategy.
To learn more about the treatment of AMD, or to take the AMD test, visit seethepossibilities.ca.
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. The COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). For more information, visit cos-sco.ca.
An online survey of 2003 Canadians aged 18+ was completed between June 10 and June 21, 2022, using Leger’s online panel. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e., a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 2003 respondents would have a margin of error of ±2.2%, 19 times out of 20. Leger’s online panel has approximately 400,000 members nationally and has a retention rate of 90%.
SOURCE Canadian Ophthalmological Society
For further information: Shubhi Sinha, firstname.lastname@example.org, BlueSky Communications