Continuing our observance of Blindness Awareness month and sharing valuable patient education information with you, we wanted to focus on Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) this week. AMD causes the gradual loss of central vision through the macula’s deterioration, and it is the vision that allows you to see fine details. People with AMD have trouble doing things like reading, driving, finding buttons on their phone, and recognizing faces. AMD usually does not affect your side (peripheral) vision. For people age 50 and older, age-related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of irreversible vision loss.
Recognize the Symptoms of AMD
AMD does not always have noticeable symptoms, so patients who don’t see their eye doctors for long periods might not realize anything is wrong. AMD is painless, and the effects on the vision might not appear right away. Gradually, though, blurry or dark patches will begin to develop in the central vision. Other symptoms are that things might start to look duller than they used to appear or warped.
Know Your Risks and Save Your Sight
AMD does not only affect older people, but age is the most significant risk factor and one reason why regular eye exams are so important. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, here are the top 5 risk factors for AMD:
- Being over the age of 50
- Having a family history of AMD
- Cigarette smoking
The Two Types of AMD: Wet and Dry
There are two different types of AMD: wet and dry. Dry macular degeneration accounts for up to 90% of the cases, and it happens when the macula tissues thin over time while fatty deposits of drusen build-up. While dry AMD is much more common, it also tends to be less severe, but it can develop into wet AMD.
Wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels grow under the retina in the body’s attempt to bolster the blood supply. The new blood vessels are weaker and less stable and are prone to leaking fluid and scarring the macula, resulting in more severe vision loss that progresses faster.
Catching AMD Early and Slowing Its Progress
There is no cure for age-related macular degeneration at this point, but there’s still a lot we can do. Outside of the eye doctor’s office, we can build and maintain healthy habits like eating right (including plenty of fish, vegetables, eggs, and leafy greens), exercising, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking. A healthy lifestyle improves the health of the entire body, including the eyes. It will both help to reduce the risk of developing AMD and slow its progress after the diagnosis.
How the Eye Doctor Can Help
Regular eye exams are essential to catching eye diseases like AMD early on. Early detection makes it much easier to fight back and slow it down. If you have any risk factors of AMD, particularly a family history of the disease, give us a call to schedule your next appointment.
Our top priority is your lifelong vision health!