Macular Degeneration

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Man having difficulty reading computerMacular Degeneration can also be known as Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). As we grow older, our risk increases of acquiring Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD is a common disease that affects the macula, a part of the eye that allows you to see small and fine details. AMD gradually destroys the sharp, central vision of a healthy eye.

AMD can cause significant damage to the eyes. Due to the slow painless, progression, many do not notice the change in their vision. For others, however, AMD progresses more rapidly and can cause complete loss of vision. For Americans aged 60 and older, AMD is the leading cause of loss of vision.

AMD has two forms

  • Wet AMD – Wet AMD, also known as advanced AMD, causes quick, rapid loss of the central vision.
  • Dry AMD – Dry AMD is the breakdown of the light sensitive macula cells which causes blurred vision of the affected part of the eye. Over time, Dry AMD can cause the macula to lose function leading to the loss of central vision.

Risk Factors for AMD

  • Age – The greatest risk factor for AMD is increasing age. People age 60 and older have a higher chance of developing AMD, however, the disease is diagnosed in middle-aged patients as well.
  • Smoking – Smoking increases an individual’s chance of developing AMD.
  • Obesity – Studies have linked obesity and the progression of early and intermediate forms of AMD to advanced AMD.
  • Race – Caucasians are at higher risk to develop AMD
  • Family History – People with family members who have AMD have a greater chance of developing this disease
  • Gender – Females are at greater risk than males to develop AMD

Symptoms of AMD

Woman using grid to test for macular degeneration

  • Blurred vision
  • Straight lines that appear distorted or crooked
  • Dark, blurry areas or a blind spot in the center of your vision

Treatments for AMD

While there is no cure for macular degeneration, there are treatment options available to help patients manage their condition and help preserve their vision. Treatment options for AMD depend on how severe it is and the type of condition they have, as well as if they have had any vision loss.

  • Dry AMD – the treatment for early dry AMD is typically monitoring its progression along with nutritional therapy and a healthy diet rich in antioxidants. For Dry AMD that might be further advanced, your physician may also recommend vitamins and supplements.
  • Wet AMD – The most common treatment for Wet AMD is anti-VEGF therapy which is done through periodic injections into the eye. The anti-VEGF chemical stops the formation of new blood vessels behind the retina in order to keep the retinal free of leakage. The procedure is performed in the clinic and is usually not painful because the eye is anesthetized prior to the shot.

If you or someone you know have signs of AMD disease, contact OSM today for a complete eye examination, proper diagnosis and an effective treatment plan to allow the greatest opportunity to maintain and improve your vision.