Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye problem that usually affects senior adults over 65. It does not cause complete blindness but can severely impact the central vision that allows people to see details, colors, and shapes.
Vision loss can make it difficult to read, drive, or recognize faces. AMD is a common cause of irreversible vision loss. The condition is categorized as either wet or dry AMD.
Dry age-related macular degeneration occurs gradually. It is caused by changes in the macula, an area under the retina. The macula helps in providing clear vision. When a patient has dry AMD, clusters of proteins and lipids (drusen) build up under the macula.
Drusen impacting central vision is a feature of AMD. The wearing down or thinning of the macula often occurs as people age, which can cause the condition.
Wet AMD is more severe but is less common than dry AMD. It occurs when irregular or abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula. The blood vessels leak fluid into the retina, affecting vision. With time, retina scarring may occur, and vision loss follows fast. Wet AMD is more treatable, its progression is partially reversible or slowed using laser treatment and medications.
Dry AMD is more common, but wet AMD is more severe and progresses faster. Wet AMD treatments can halt further vision loss by reducing irregular blood vessels. The treatment options are anti-VEGF medications and photodynamic therapy (PDT).
Dry AMD has no proven cure and no way to reverse vision loss. However, some doctors believe that eating nutrient-rich foods like fish and leafy greens can help people with dry AMD. In many cases, the goal of AMD treatment is to help the patient adapt to low vision.
It is unclear what causes AMD, but risk factors associated with the condition include:
Being over 50 years
A family history of AMD
Presence of drusen under the retina
Being overweight or obese
Having high blood pressure
Consuming diets high in saturated fats
Symptoms of AMD depend on the type. They progress depending on the type and include blurry vision, trouble with night vision, and straight lines appearing crooked or wavy. Patients also experience blank spots in their vision, difficulty seeing in low lighting, and colors appearing less vivid. Regular eye exams at Everything Eyes are essential for detecting the signs of AMD. Early detection helps ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Low vision devices can help patients cope with vision loss caused by AMD. Useful tools include:
UV protection sunglasses
Magnifying glasses for reading
Using screen readers
Installing brighter overhead lighting
A vision rehabilitation specialist can provide tips on coping with low vision. There are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing AMD. Eat a healthy balanced diet, stay active, maintain blood pressure levels, and avoid smoking. Scheduling regular eye exams is the best way to protect your eye health.
For more on wet vs. dry macular degeneration, visit Everything Eyes at our Delray Beach, Florida office. Call (561) 499-2055 to schedule an appointment today.