Age-related macular degeneration is a progressive eye disease that occurs when the center of the retina called the macula deteriorates. This is the part of the eye that is responsible for visual acuity, meaning it picks up fine details. As the condition progresses, it will become increasingly difficult to see fine details, and eventually, it can lead to blindness. Let’s take a closer look at age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
There are two forms of AMD: dry and wet. Dry AMD is the most common type, affecting approximately 80 percent of people diagnosed with AMD. With dry AMD, the macula becomes thinner due to aging and small clumps of protein form on or around the macula causing patients with dry AMD to slowly lose their central vision. While there is no cure for dry AMD, you can slow the progression by eating a healthy diet and taking vitamin supplements. Your eye doctor can provide additional information on how to further protect your eyes.
Wet AMD is not as common as the dry form, but it is much more serious. This condition occurs when new blood vessels grow under the macula and retina. These blood vessels can leak blood and fluid, causing the macula to bulge or lift. Wet AMD progresses faster than dry AMD, so early treatment is very important. Many people respond well to medications that prevent additional blood cells from forming behind the eye. While these medications won’t reverse the damage that’s already been done, they can prevent the disease from progressing and causing blindness.
While anyone can develop AMD, certain factors can increase the risk. People who are overweight, smoke, have high blood pressure, eat diets high in saturated fats, and have a family history of AMD are more likely to develop AMD. Also, people who take certain medications, such as Aralen and Thorazine, are at an increased risk to develop the condition.
Age is also a risk factor, with people 75 years and older being the most likely to develop AMD.
Patients should talk to their eye doctor about their risk factors, including their family histories and lifestyle. Their eye doctors can provide information to help them lower their risks.
Early detection is important to prevent permanent vision loss. Knowing the symptoms of AMD is critical so that you can visit the eye doctor if you suspect that you may have this disease.
When the disease is in its early stages, you might experience distorted or fuzzy vision. Many people also notice shadows in the central vision, are extra sensitive to glaring lights, and have a hard time seeing details when the lights are dim. If you have any of these warning signs, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor immediately.
If you think you have AMD, call today to schedule a comprehensive exam at our eye care center. Your optometrist will check for signs of AMD and if you are diagnosed with AMD, your optometrist will create a treatment plan to protect your vision.