WHAT IS MACULAR DEGENERATION?
Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD or AMD) is very common. It is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 years or older. AMD is a problem with the central portion of the retina. AMD affects the central portion of the vision. It becomes difficult to see fine details and distance and near. Reading vision is especially affected. The peripheral vision tends to remain normal.
TWO TYPES OF AGE RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration
This form is quite common. About 80% (8 out of 10) of people who have AMD have the dry form. With dry AMD vision loss is usually slow. Currently, there is no way to treat dry AMD although some clinical trials are currently underway.
Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration
This form is less common but much more serious. Wet AMD is when abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina. These vessels may leak blood or other fluids, causing damage to the macula and loss of central vision. Vision loss is typically quicker with wet AMD than with dry AMD.
Many people don’t realize they have AMD until their vision is very blurry. This is why it is important to have regular visits to an ophthalmologist to be examined.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR AGE RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION?
Below are risk factors for developing age related macular degeneration:
• Age of 60
• Caucasian Race
• Having a family history of AMD
• Cigarette smoking
People with any two of these risk factors should schedule an appointment for a complete evaluation. There are certain preventive measures which can reduce the risk of vision loss from this disorder and there are ways to detect the disease in the early stages.
DIAGNOSIS OF AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
During an eye exam, you may be asked to look at an Amsler grid. This grid helps you notice any blurry or blank spots in your central vision. It is also important to dilate your eyes and also look inside your eye through a special lens to see if there are any signs of wet AMD that may require treatment as soon as possible to prevent vision loss.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is another way to look closely at the retina. This machine scans the retina using light and provides very detailed images of the retina and macula.
Treatment of AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration Treatment
Currently, there is no way to treat the dry form of AMD. However people with many drusen or central vision loss might benefit from taking a certain combination of nutritional supplements. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found those people may slow their dry AMD by taking these vitamins and minerals daily.
Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration Treatment
It is important to treat wet AMD as soon as possible before it progresses to scarring which can lead to permanent vision loss. Medications called anti-VEGF drugs are used to treat wet AMD. Anti-VEGF treatment helps reduce and eliminate the leakage of blood or fluid in the macula and can typically help restore vision if treatment is initiated in the early phases.
CAN AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION CAUSE BLINDNESS?
It is important to treat wet AMD as soon as possible. Without an exam and testing, it can be difficult to know if you have dry or wet AMD. If you have any changes in your vision, please contact us to be seen immediately for an examination and testing.