CHICAGO - Today, more than 2 million Americans 50 and over have age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is an eye disease that causes central vision to gradually deteriorate. According to the 2013 "Cost of Vision Problems: The Economic Burden of Vision Loss and Eye Disorders in the United States" report, blindness and low vision annually costs more than $3.7 billion, with an annual per-person treatment cost of $6,680.
Almost 3 million Americans have low vision, according to the National Eye Institute.
Prevent Blindness, the nation's oldest volunteer eye health and safety organization, has declared February as Age-related Macular Degeneration/Low Vision Awareness Month.
As part of the observance, the group offers educational materials at no cost through its dedicated Web pages and its toll-free number.
Prevent Blindness resources providing information and materials on AMD and low vision include:
Living Well with Low Vision - This new online resource, http://lo wvision.preventblindn ess.org, offers a wealth of information ranging from an extensive list of searchable, local low vision resource directories to an informative blog with news for people living with age-related eye disease and significant visual impairment, authored by patient advocate and low vision educator Dan Roberts, M.M.E.
AMD Awareness Makes a Difference - Through its annual campaign, Prevent Blindness offers a free magnetic Amsler grid.
An Amsler grid is a grid of horizontal and vertical lines used to monitor a person's central version and can help identify vision abnormalities linked to AMD.
To request a grid with instructions for use, go to: preventblindness.org/age-related-macular-degeneration-amd.
Prevent Blindness AMD Learning Center
The AMD Learning Center, found at pre ventblindness.org/amd, provides a variety of educational tools including AMD risk factors, treatment options, an Adult Vision Risk Assessment tool, fact sheets and more.
See Jane See - More women than men have eye disease, and 65 percent of those diagnosed with AMD are women. Prevent Blindness offers SeeJaneSee.org, a new online resource that includes free eye health information tailored to women on a variety of topics.
"The number of cases of those with AMD, retinal disorders and low vision are growing at an alarming rate," said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. "Only through education, early detection and treatment can we prevent considerable vision loss."
Making a commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle also helps to save sight.
Prevent Blindness recommends:
Visit an eye doctor regularly.
Eat healthy foods, including foods rich in certain antioxidants.
Control blood pressure.
Avoid eye injuries by wearing eye protection during physical activities.
When outdoors, no matter what time of year, always wear UV-blocking, wrap-around sunglasses and a brimmed hat.
For more information on AMD, low vision and other eye disease, call 800-331-2020 or visit preventblindnessorg/ amd.