Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans 60 years of age or older. Currently, about 1.75 million U.S. residents have advanced AMD with associated vision loss. That number expected to grow to almost 3 million by 2020.
AMD is an eye disease that affects the part of the retina (the macula) responsible for sharp, central vision. As a result, AMD can make it difficult to perform every day tasks, such as reading and driving.
Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- Gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- Objects appear distorted in shape. Straight lines look wavy or crooked.
- Loss of clear color vision
- A dark or empty area appears in the center of vision.
If you feel you may be experiencing any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible. Any sudden change in your vision is a serious medical condition that requires prompt medical attention from your optometrist or ophthalmologist.
AMD can advance so slowly that individuals initially notice little change in their vision. Other times, AMD progresses more rapidly and may even lead to vision loss in both eyes. This is why regular eye exams are so important. They can help detect the eye disease before it causes significant vision loss.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treatment
There are two types of AMD, “dry” macular degeneration and the less common “wet” macular degeneration.
Dry AMD: With this form of AMD, the tissue of the macula gradually becomes thinner and stops functioning properly. There is currently no cure for dry AMD and any vision loss associated with the disease cannot be restored, even with treatment.
Wet AMD: This form of AMD is caused by fluid that leak from newly formed blood vessels under the macula, resulting in blurred central vision. With wet AMD, vision loss can be rapid and severe, but if detected early, this form of AMD can be treated with photocoagulation (laser treatment).
Other potential treatment options include:
Anti-angiogenesis drugs: These medications block the development of new blood vessels and leakage from the abnormal vessels within the eye that cause wet macular degeneration.
Vitamins: A recent study found that vitamins C, E, beta carotene, zinc and copper can decrease the risk of vision loss in patients with intermediate to advanced dry macular degeneration.
Photodynamic laser therapy: A two-step treatment in which a light sensitive drug is used to damage the abnormal blood vessels. A doctor injects the drug into the bloodstream to be absorbed by the abnormal blood vessels in the eye. The doctor then shines a cold laser into the eye to activate the drug, damaging the abnormal blood vessels.
While AMD treatment cannot restore your vision, it can help to slow further vision loss.
If you have any questions about what you have just read or if you would like to learn more about cataracts, please contact board certified ophthalmologist Samuel Boles and the eye care specialists at Anne Arundel Eye Center by calling 410-224-2010 or click here to visit AnneArundelEyeCenter.com today!
Located in Annapolis, Maryland, the Anne Arundel Eye Center offers comprehensive specialized ophthalmic exams as well as diagnostic pre and post-surgical eye care. Specializing in glaucoma and cataracts, Dr. Boles has helped restore and preserve thousands of patients’ vision.
For more eye care advice and information, please take a look at our previous blog posts.
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Macular Degeneration MedlinePlus
Age-Related Macular Degeneration American Optometric Association