Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is among the leading causes of vision loss in people 65 years or older. Understanding what it is, including its symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options, is vital to protecting your eye health as you advance in age. In this blog post, we’ll answer some common questions about this eye-related condition.
What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?
Age-related macular degeneration is an eye condition involving damage to the macula, or the part of the retina responsible for processing central vision. Here, the central vision becomes blurred or distorted, while the peripheral vision remains intact.
What Are the Types of AMD?
There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. Dry AMD is when the macula starts thinning, causing the retinal pigment epithelial cells to slowly die. Wet AMD, meanwhile, is when new blood vessels start growing abnormally under the retina, causing blood and other fluids to leak. This, in turn, results in swelling and scarring. Unlike dry AMD, the progression of vision loss happens at a faster rate.
What Are the Symptoms of AMD?
The most common symptom associated with the early stages of AMD is difficulty reading due to blurred text or dark spots at the center area of sight. Additionally, difficulty recognizing faces from afar may occur, as well as blurry or distorted central images that may seem bent out of shape.
How Is AMD Diagnosed?
Your optometrist will perform a comprehensive eye exam to look for structural changes on retinal tissues, which may be seen as a sign of advanced stages of AMD. They may also conduct other tests, such as fluorescein angiography, fundus photography, optical coherence tomography, and visual acuity tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Who Are at Risk of AMD?
Certain risk factors may increase an individual’s chance of acquiring AMD. These include people who are older than 65, have a family history of macular degeneration, smoke cigarettes, have high cholesterol levels, exposed to the sun for long periods, and are overweight or obese.
How Is AMD Treated?
Early detection of AMD symptoms result in better vision preservation and treatment plans provided by eye care professionals. It all starts with a consultation with your eye doctor. The following are some of the ways to manage AMD:
- Nutrition. Taking vitamins C and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent AMD. Lutein and zeaxanthin supplements increase retinal pigmentation, lowering the risk of progressive AMD. These nutrients also help protect you from the effects of sunlight exposure.
- Smoking Cessation. This is one major step to take when trying to prevent or slow down AMD. Cigarettes, after all, contain toxic chemicals that can affect retinal cells.
- Reduced Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol has been linked to increased risk for AMD, which is why it’s better to lower your intake.
- Medication. Wet AMD is treated with anti-VEGF medications to prevent new blood vessels from developing beneath the retina, halting the progression of vision loss. Laser light simulates medication injections into the eye to eliminate damaged retinal cells in photodynamic therapy.
- Surgery. In some cases, surgery may be required to manage AMD. Intraocular lens implants, for instance, can help improve central vision clarity, especially for those with advanced AMD. These lenses will help focus light onto the macula to help you see more clearly.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with AMD, you should immediately consult your eye doctor and schedule a comprehensive eye exam. The team at Vienna Eyecare Center can be relied upon to diagnose and treat a wide range of eye-related conditions, including AMD. We offer the latest treatments and technologies to help slow down and manage the progression of the disease. Call us at (703) 938-7633, or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment. We serve homeowners in Fairfax, VA, and the surrounding communities.