What is Age Related Macular Degeneration or AMD?
Age Related Macular Degeneration, also know as AMD is the number one cause of vision loss in people that are over 60 years old. The disease attacks your central vision and destroys it. Macular degeneration affects the macula and causes cells to die off. There are two types of macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration is when blood vessels begin to grow under the macula and leak blood or fluid. Dry macular degeneration is a slower process that happens when the light sensitive cells in the macula break down.
What is Central Vision?
Central vision is what you use to see objects clearly and to do day to day tasks that are usually simple such as recognizing faces, reading and driving. The macula is part of central vision and allows you to take in small details around you.
What are Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
Early symptoms of wet AMD is usually blurred vision while dry AMD presents with straight lines appearing to be crooked. Early onset AMD patients begin realizing that they need more light to read and have more difficulty recognizing someone’s face until you are much closer to them. A unique symptom of dry AMD is a blurred spot showing up in the center of your vision.
What Causes Macular Degeneration?
It is a combination of genetic factors as well as environmental factors. While a lot of the factors have been determined, some remain unknown. As genes change as you get older this poses possible risk factors which are related to the disease. While smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, lack of nutrients and exercise all can increase the risk of AMD, there is no proof yet that any of these elements actually cause the condition.
Does it Hurt?
Not at all. It is a painless condition.
Can it Be Treated and Cured?
While there is no proven cure for this condition as of yet, antioxidant vitamins and zinc have shown great success in the reduction of macular degeneration. They seem to slow down the progress of the condition so that the more advanced stages take longer to reach. The best treatment is as follows:
- 500 mg Vitamin C
- 400 IU Vitamin E
- 10 mg Lutein
- 2 mg Zeaxanthin
- 80 mg Zinc oxide
- 2 mg copper
Folic acid and B6 and B12 vitamins have also been shown to be beneficial in woman.
The above is referring to dry AMD eye disease. Wet AMD is a little different. There is more of a possibility of retinal surgery being successful or some sort of a retinal detachment treatment. Treatment may also involve anti-VEGF treatment which is a thermal laser. Photodynamic therapy can also be used. However, this treatments typically reduce symptoms and slow down the process but unfortunately do not entirely eliminate all risk of vision loss.
What Should I Do if I Think I am Experiencing Age Related Macular Degeneration Symptoms?
Immediately see your ophthalmologist or optometrist. If you are getting regular check ups, this is something that they will be looking out for anyway. They will inspect the macula and the retina during eye exams. If this condition is suspected then you will probably undergo a photographic procedure that uses fluorescein angiography to identify any problems. Another test that could be preformed is called OCT imaging. Both tests will show details of the patterns that are in the blood vessels of your eyes so that any oddities can be detected.
Can Age Related Macular Degeneration be Prevented?
Unfortunately, if you are going to get macular degeneration, there is no way to prevent the condition but you can lower your risk factors can having a healthy and balanced diet, exercising often and avoiding smoking. New studies have shown that smokers are at higher risk of developing macular degeneration than anyone else.
Catching the condition early on and engaging in the correct treatment may not guarantee that your vision will not continue to fail but it will definitely slow down the process quite a bit and you may never reach the stage of total vision loss. Speak with your eye doctor if you have concerns or if anyone in your family suffers from this condition and make sure that you regularly schedule eye exams and attend all the appointments.