Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an acquired eye disease that damages the retina. The retina works to turn light into a signal that the brain can process. The most sensitive part of the retina is known as the macula, and it is responsible for giving us sharp, central vision. Macular degeneration can damage this central vision and cause people to lose their ability to read and recognize faces.
Are You at Risk?
AMD is one of the major causes of vision loss in adults over age 50. Some risk factors include: smoking, family history of AMD, being overweight, and having high blood pressure. Patients with AMD typically notice blurry spots, blank spots or areas of distortion in their vision.
AMD: Dry or Wet?
Macular degeneration can be divided into two groups: dry or wet. Dry AMD is more common and typically progresses at a slower rate. The dry form of AMD involves accumulation of drusen (yellow deposits of lipids and proteins) that can lead to retinal damage. Some patients with dry AMD may convert to the wet form of AMD. Wet AMD involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels that leak blood and fluid into the retina, which can lead to scarring and vision loss.
We Can Help
Early stages of AMD can occur without any vision changes. This is why it is important to have a dilated eye exam by age 40, if you have not already had one. A dilated eye exam allows for the ophthalmologist to take a detailed look inside the eye using a special lens. If changes related to AMD are found, a scan of the retina can be done using optical coherence tomography (OCT). An OCT device provides a close-up view of what is going on under the surface to help better diagnose macular degeneration.
At this time there is no treatment for dry AMD. Certain patients with dry macular degeneration may benefit from starting a combination of vitamins and minerals. Patients with wet AMD may benefit from treatment with medications that reduce leakage from abnormal blood vessels. For both types of AMD, an Amsler grid can be used to track any vision changes that may not be easy to notice.
Contact Metro Eye Center to schedule an eye exam and get screened for macular degeneration and other important eye diseases.