February is National AMD Awareness Month
February generally calls to mind images of a soothsaying groundhog and scantily clad cherubs aiming arrows into the heart, but there's more to the story for the year's shortest month.
February is National AMD Awareness Month, reminding everyone they may be able to help someone they love by learning about age-related macular degeneration, AMD for short.
And I do mean everyone, regardless of how many leap years they’ve celebrated. Though AMD is most likely to be diagnosed in patients over age 65, Baby Boomers, Millennials, Gen Xers and Gen Yers are also feeling AMD’s effects as caretakers of their older family members.
So what better way to show your employees some love this month than to offer them the information they need to protect their vision and that of their loved ones?
The basics of AMD
AMD is the degeneration of the central portion of the retina, the part of the eye that essentially processes what we see and transmits those images from eye to brain via the optic nerve. The macula is what allows us to focus, read, recognize colors and see details.
An incurable disease, AMD affects 11 million Americans, making it the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. Both hereditary and environmental factors play a role in AMD, which might not cause noticeable effects until its latest stage. By that point, AMD sufferers often see straight lines as wavy, see blurry printed type and have their sight blocked by dark or empty spaces in their vision.
As the name implies, the risk of AMD rises as we age. That risk is higher for people with a family history of AMD, and smokers face double the risk of non-smokers. Caucasians are more likely to develop AMD than African-Americans or Hispanics. Plus, long term exposure to harmful blue light has been linked to increased risk of developing AMD.
What You Can Do
Not surprisingly, early detection is the best way to battle AMD. That means a comprehensive, dilated eye exam every year or 2, especially for people over 60, per guidelines issued by the American Optometric Association. Offering vision benefits to your employees makes it easy for all ages to protect their vision.
Encouraging a year-round discussion of benefits and how to make the most of them—not just focusing on open enrollment time—keeps eye health top of mind. And as Boomers head into retirement, encourage them to keep up their habits of annual eye exams and seek out a vision discount or benefit solution through AARP or a senior solution offered through their health plan or other benefits company.
Employees of every age can lower their risk of AMD by not smoking; eating more fruits, vegetables and fish; and exercising at least 3 times a week. In general, good overall health correlates to good eye health.
Limiting exposure to ultraviolet (UV) and blue light from digital devices, LED lights, metal Halide lamps and the sun, may also decrease the chances of developing AMD. A simple pair of quality sunglasses can be a powerful tool for preserving vision! Some vision benefits, such as EyeMed’s, even include discounts for non-prescription sun wear.
Emphasize to your employees the importance of using their vision benefits for their own good health and then encourage them to pay it forward by promoting vision care to their older friends and family.
Make sure your employees know where to find a list of participating eye care providers so they can easily schedule an eye exam. EyeMed’s enhanced online locator even allows users to schedule exams right from the locator’s listing.
Pass along information to your employees like this overview of AMD.
When you enable your employees to care of their health and the health of their families, that’s showing them true love in a way a box of chocolates and some candy hearts never could.
CATEGORY: Health & Wellness
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