What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

age related macular degeneration

As we get older our vision begins to deteriorate. One of the common ways in which this can occur is with Age-Related Macular Degeneration or AMD. Age Related Macular Degeneration can advance slowly and in some cases it can progress at a quicker rate. AMD is when an area near the center of the vision becomes blurred. As AMD progresses, the blurred spot can grow bigger or blank spots can start to develop around the central vision.

The macula is the part of your eye responsible for crisp central vision, and helps you see the fine details.  It’s located in the retina, in the very back area of the eye. Age-related macular degeneration destroys the macula and typically affects people 50 years and older. Progression of the disease can occur slowly or more quickly and affects vision in one or both eyes. AMD can affect daily activities such as driving, reading, cooking fixing things and the ability to see faces.

Macula affects:

  • 2.1 million people in the United States
  • 89% of those affected are white
  • 67% of Women 

AMD Symptoms

As stated previously, AMD results in a loss of vision which can make everyday tasks difficult such as driving, reading and watching TV. AMD doesn’t result in complete vision loss, your peripheral vision should remain intact. Low vision rehabilitation and low vision aids should allow the person with AMD to keep some of their ability to see.

Common AMD symptoms include:

  1. Blurry vision
  2. Difficulty recognizing faces
  3. Straight lines seem wavy
  4. A dark, blind spot, appears in your central vision
  5. Loss of central vision

Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Dry, or atrophic AMD, is the most common form of this eye disease. 85%-90% of people affected with AMD will have the dry form. A gradually thinning, or die off, of cells in the macula occurs with this form and results in gradual vision loss.

Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Wet, or neovascular AMD, affects 10%-15% of people with AMD. In this form an abnormal growth of blood vessels occurs which leads to scarring of the macula. This form of AMD results in a rapid loss of vision.

AMD Risk Factors

  • Family history of AMD
  • Smoking – smokers have 2-3x the risk of developing AMD
  • Gender – women have a higher risk than men of developing AMD
  • Poor diet – a diet filled with healthy antioxidants and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables can help prevent AMD or slow its progression
  • High blood pressure or heart disease
  • High cholesterol level

Treating AMD

Although there are no treatments available for the dry form of age-related macular degeneration, wet AMD has a few options. Laser surgery, injections and photodynamic therapy are 3 treatment options for people with the wet form of AMD.

The National Eye Institute recently concluded a 10-year age-related eye disease study, AREDS. The AREDS research found a specific combination of antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc could cut the risk of getting advanced AMD.

Dilated Eye Exam

A comprehensive, dilated eye exam is the only way to detect AMD. An eye care professional will put eye drops in your eye before beginning the examination. The drops widen your pupils letting the eye doctor exam your optic nerve and retina.

Schedule your FREE Eye Exam to detect early signs of Make sure to schedule your yearly eye exam to prevent the progression of AMD.