What is AMD? What are the symptoms of AMD? Is AMD treatable?
What is Age-related Macular Degeneration?
Age-related Macular Degeneration or AMD is a medical condition predominantly found in elderly adults. The center lining of the eye, the macula thins and can bleed in those with age-related macular degeneration. This results in AMD gradually destroying central vision affecting the ability to see fine details thus making it difficult to perform daily tasks. Because AMDcauses no pain and can advance slowly it can be difficult to detect and can lead to major changes in vision over time. In people of 60 years of age in the United States age-related macular degeneration is the number one leading cause of central vision loss and blindness. If you are over age 60 it is important to have routine eye exams. The doctors at Family Vision Center perform comprehensive eye exams to detect any possible eye diseases including age-related macular degeneration.
What are the types of AMD?
There are two types of age-related macular degeneration: Wet AMD and Dry AMD. Because wet and dry AMD does not cause pain it can be difficult for people to detect on their own, which is why routine eye exams are important. Dry AMD is the most common form encompassing more than 85 percent of all people with AMD.
The macula of people with dry age-related macular degeneration slowly breaks down causing a gradual increase in blurry vision. As time passes dry AMD can cause a blurry spot in the center of your vision and loss of central vision is possible. Typically both eyes are affected by dry age-related macular degeneration but vision can be lost in one eye and the other seems fine.
Early signs of dry AMD include slightly blurred vision and drusen. People with early AMD typically have several drusen or yellow deposits under the retina. A blurred spot in the center of your vision is a sign of intermediate AMD and can cause difficulties in performing everyday tasks. As dry AMD progresses it can lead to larger areas of blurred vision and difficulty seeing. If you have any of the above symptoms contact the professionals at Family Vision Center today to get a comprehensive eye exam.
When blood vessels behind the retina abnormally grow under the macula it is called wet age-related macular degeneration. These abnormal blood vessels often leak blood causing the macula to rise from its normal location. Unlike dry AMD, wet AMD occurs quickly and central vision losses happen rapidly. Wet AMD does not have stages like dry AMD. Everyone that has wet age-related macular degeneration started out with dry AMD which is why it is sometimes consider advanced AMD.
The most common symptom of web age-related macular degeneration is straight lines appear crooked. The distorting in wet AMD is due to the new position of the macula. Blind spots or missing areas in vision can also occur with web AMD. If you notice any symptoms of wet AMD contact Family Vision Center immediately for an extensive examination.
How is AMD detected?
With no pain and little symptoms during the early stages of age-related macular degeneration it can be difficult to detect. It is recommended to have at least yearly eye exams so that doctors can perform diagnostic tests to detect AMD. Eye care physicians will perform tests like the visual acuity test, dilated eye exam and tonometry to detect AMD.
Who is at Risk for AMD?
The biggest risk factor for AMD is age. Although it is possible for AMD to occur in middle aged adults, people over age 60 are at greatest risk of age-related macular degeneration. Women are also at greater risk of getting AMD than men. Whites are also more likely to get AMD than African Americans. There are also a couple other factors which could increase the risk of AMD including: smoking, obesity and family history. If members of your immediate family have AMD you have a higher risk of AMD. Contact Family Vision Center to discuss your risk factors of age-related macular degeneration.
How is AMD treated?
Currently no treatment exists to prevent vision loss from dry age-related macular degeneration. However, research has shown that extra vitamins and minerals may be used to slow the progression of dry AMD. By slowing the progression of dry AMD it is possible to prevent from reaching advanced stages in which vision loss can occur.
Laser surgery may be used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration. During surgery the abnormal blood vessels which push on the macula are destroyed by a laser to prevent any further vision loss. New abnormal blood vessels may develop after laser surgery which is why numerous treatments may be necessary. Since laser surgery is not for everyone contact your Family Vision Center physician to discuss your options. Drug therapy may also be used to treat wet AMD. A drug called verteporfin is injected into the patient’s arm which in only a few minutes destroys new blood vessels in the eye. This drug therapy may slow the rate of vision loss, but any damage done prior to treatment cannot be restored.
If you have any questions about symptoms, treatment or diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration contact the experience professionals at Family Vision Center.