Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. in people over the age of 60.
The macula is a very small portion of the retina that is responsible for your central vision. The macula is loaded with photoreceptors that enable you to read, watch television, drive, sew — anything that requires focused, precise vision.
There are two main types of macular degeneration: The “DRY” (or atrophic) form accounts for 9 out of 10 AMD cases. It is usually slow to develop and does not cause total loss of central vision. You may notice wavy lines, and colors may look dimmer. The “WET” (or exudative) form occurs in only 10 percent of AMD patients, but is more serious. You may suddenly notice dark spots, blank spots, wavy lines, and dim colors in the center of your vision.
In the dry form of AMD — the most common form — tiny yellow deposits, called drusen, develop beneath the macula, signaling a degeneration of the tissue.
About 10% of cases of dry macular degeneration develop into the wet form of AMD, in which abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the macula. As these vessels leak blood and fluid onto and underneath the retina, retinal cells die, causing blurring, distortion, and blank spots in your field of vision.
AMD causes loss of central vision. Therefore it is the vision used for reading and detailed vision is lost. Regular eye exams can detect early signs of AMD.
AMD affects the eyesight of 13 million Americans, drastically limiting mobility and devastating a sense of independence and security. It strikes painlessly, disrupting the central vision needed to read, write, drive, and watch TV. One-third of the population over age 75 is likely to develop AMD, and most victims first realize the symptoms of AMD their late 50s. AMD is the leading cause of functional blindness in people 65 or older.
What Should You Do?
Monitor Vision Loss – Sudden vision changes may be a sign of wet macular degeneration. Monitor your vision with an Amsler grid.
- Keep grid at eye level and stand 14 inches away
- If you wear reading glasses, put them on. Cover one eye and focus on the black dot in the center of the grid.
- On the grid, mark any changes from the day before. This may include black spots or wavy lines. Repeat these steps with the other eye.
- Don’t smoke.
- Wear UV and blue light blocking sunglasses.
- Enhance your diet with fish, fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants.
- Nutritional Supplements with the proper amounts of antioxidants can help slow the progression of advanced AMD.
- Laser photocoagulation therapy can help destroy abnormal blood vessels to seal leaks for wet AMD.
- Anti-VEGF compounds (medications) are starting to become available for wet AMD.