DEAR ABBY: In your column of July 5, you responded to a writer struggling with accommodating her widowed, elderly father who suffers from the eye condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and therefore has trouble reading small print. On behalf of the AMD Alliance International, thank you for printing that letter. Just seven years ago I was diagnosed with AMD, and I now chair the AMD Alliance.
AMD is an eye condition that causes loss of central vision and is the leading cause of legal blindness to individuals over the age of 50 in the Western world. Approximately 25 million to 30 million people are affected worldwide by some form of AMD, but awareness and understanding are still very low. In a recent international survey commissioned by us in May 1999, only 2 percent of adults surveyed think AMD is the leading cause of severe sight loss among adults 50 and older.
While there is currently no cure for AMD, there are ways for those diagnosed with it to gain hope and maintain independent lifestyles through treatment and rehabilitation options, low-vision aids and support services.
Early detection is the key to making the greatest possible impact, so please encourage regular eye exams.
Abby, thank you for sharing this message of hope for others like me who must now learn to adjust to a new way of daily living. -- DR. BOB THOMPSON, CHAIRMAN, AMD ALLIANCE INTERNATIONAL
DEAR DR. THOMPSON: After reading your letter, I'm sure many people will be interested in learning more about age-related macular degeneration. I first learned about this eye condition when it affected my trusted secretary of many years, Sylvia Singer.
Readers, the AMD Alliance International is a nonprofit alliance of vision and seniors organizations. For more information about AMD, early detection and global resources, visit the Web site at www.amdalliance.org. You can also use the toll-free hotline: (877) 263-7171.