Understanding Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Feb 2, 2023 | Eye Diseases

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss for people aged 50 and older. While there is no cure for AMD, there are ways to prevent or slow the progression of the disease.

In this blog, we’ll share everything you need to know about AMD, including the different types, symptoms to look out for, and treatment options.

What is AMD?

AMD is an age-related eye disease that affects the macula—the part of the eye responsible for sharp central vision needed for activities like reading and driving. It occurs when there is damage to the macula due to deterioration or thinning of the light sensitive cells in the retina. This can lead to a gradual loss or distortion of central vision.

AMD usually affects both eyes but not at the same rate. Risk factors for AMD include being 50 and older, smoking, having high blood pressure, and eating a diet high in saturated fats.

Types of AMD

There are two primary types of AMD—dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is more common and progresses slowly. With dry AMD, the macula thins and deteriorates as a natural result of aging.

Dry AMD can develop into wet AMD, which is when abnormal blood vessels grow and leak beneath the retina. Wet AMD is less common but much more severe, as it develops rapidly and can result in permanent loss of central vision. Fortunately, wet AMD can be treated with laser surgery or injections into the eye if caught early.

Signs of AMD

In its early stages, AMD may have no signs or symptoms. The earliest warning sign of AMD is blurred vision or distorted images, such as straight lines appearing wavy or objects appearing smaller than they really are. You may also have trouble recognizing faces or colors or reading in low-light conditions. If you notice any changes in your vision, make an appointment with your optometrist right away to ensure early detection and treatment.

Treatment & prevention

Treatment for age-related macular degeneration depends on its type and severity. Treatment options range from lifestyle changes to laser surgery to injections into the eye if needed. Additionally, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing AMD such as:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating healthy foods rich in vitamins A and C and omega-3 fatty acids
  • Wearing sunglasses with UV protection filters

It’s also important to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams every year or as recommended by your optometrist.

With proper care and precautionary measures, you can protect yourself against age-related macular degeneration and preserve your sight. If you notice any changes in your vision, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our practice.