Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in people above the age of 50. It causes a person to gradually lose his or her central vision, which a person needs for detailed activities like driving or reading.
“Age-related” means that the illness often befalls older people. “Macular” means that the disease destroys the central region of the eye called the macula. Over 11 million Americans have some form of AMD. Thankfully, the diagnosis and treatment for AMD continue to develop to help the lives of those affected.
There are two types of AMD, namely: dry AMD (more common) and wet AMD (less common but more severe). With dry AMD, sections of the macula become thinner as a person ages, and yellow clusters of protein called drusen form. As dry AMD worsens, you gradually lose central vision. There is no treatment for dry AMD yet.
Wet AMD happens when new abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina and leak fluids into the retina. This causes damage to the macula. Patients with wet AMD lose their eyesight faster than those with dry AMD. Sadly, many do not notice they have AMD until their sight becomes quite blurry. This is why it is vital to check in with your eye doctor regularly. He or she can rule out AMD or detect it early before you get any problems with your vision.
As AMD develops, you may experience the following symptoms:
Blurry vision: Your vision is less clear, and you may experience trouble driving or reading the fine print.
Blank or dark spots: Over time, the blurriness may affect a larger section of your central vision, and you may see dark spots. Images may also appear less bright than they did earlier.
Straight lines: may begin to appear wavy
AMD currently has no cure. Treatments only help to delay the progress of the disease and to help retain some of your vision. Your treatment options may include:
Anti-angiogenesis medications: These medicines stop the growth of the abnormal blood vessels and leakage from the vessels in your retina. People who have taken these medications have recovered their lost vision.
Low vision aids: These optical devices have unique lenses that enlarge the images of nearby objects to help those with AMD see clearer.
Laser treatment: This treatment uses high-energy light to terminate the abnormal blood vessels growing below your retina.
Photodynamic treatment: Your ophthalmologist injects a light-sensitive medicine into your veins, and the abnormal blood vessels absorb it. Your doctor then directs light into your retina to trigger the medicine to mutilate the abnormal vessels.
You are at risk for AMD if you smoke, have a family history of the disease, are Caucasian, overweight, eat fatty foods, have high blood pressure, or if you are over 50 years old. You can lower your risk by practicing healthy lifestyle habits, including eating healthy, exercising often, and having regular eye exams.
To learn more about age-related macular degeneration, visit Okaloosa Eye Care in Crestview, Florida. You can also call (850) 608-0003 to book an appointment today.