Age Related Macular Degeneration Awareness

Written by eHealth Navigator

Age-Related Macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 60, and it affects more than 9 million people in the U.S. over age 40.

Your retina is light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye, and its small central portion, the macula, normally provides sharp, detailed central vision needed for seeing objects clearly.  In sufferers of AMD, the macula gradually deteriorates, causing loss of central vision.

AMD does not usually cause total blindness; peripheral (side) vision is typically not affected.  But the loss of central, detailed vision does severely limit the ability to recognize faces, drive a car, read, write or do any close work.

There is no cure for AMD, but early detection facilitates treatments that might delay or reduce the severity of the disease.

There are basically two types of AMD; wet and dry.  Dry macular degeneration is the degradation of cells within the macula, causing eventual focus issues and blurred vision.  Wet Macular degeneration is determined by abnormal blood vessels that begin to grow beneath the retina.  The vessels begin to leak blood causing scarring and eventual distortion that impairs the retina’s ability to collect visual data.  Wet AMD affects only about 15% of the individuals who suffer this condition.

Who is at high risk for AMD?
•  Smokers (research shows double the risk for smokers)
•  Caucasians more than other races
•  Those with a family history of AMD

According to studies, smoking cessation and eating a healthy diet that includes leafy green vegetables and fish are lifestyle changes that can reduce risk; benefits from other lifestyle changes have not been reported, but a generally a healthy lifestyle could have an impact.

AMD can be detected in routine eye exams by catching one of the earliest signs of AMD: tiny yellow deposits under the retina called drusen.  Often AMD symptoms go unrecognized until the condition advances or affects both eyes.  See an ophthalmologist for an exam immediately if you experience these symptoms:
•  Blur. The first sign is usually a dim, blurry spot in the center of one’s vision.
•  Color. Changes in color perception are also an early symptom.

To learn about the different types of AMD, visit the National Eye Institute website at www.nei.nih.gov and search “macular degeneration”.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 3 May 2016 11:11PM