Age-Related Macular Degeneration
By: Julia King, O.D.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration, AMD, is a leading cause of vision loss in adults over 50. It destroys the macula, which is the small central area of the retina that provides detailed central vision. With AMD, you lose the ability to see fine details, both close-up and at a distance. Due to the aging population, the number of people affected by AMD will expectedly increase significantly in the years ahead.
There are two forms of AMD, dry and wet. About 80% of people with AMD have the dry form. This condition is due to a breakdown or thinning of the macula. Dry AMD usually begins when yellow deposits called drusen form in the macula. As the dry form of the disease progresses, it can cause significant vision loss.
There is no treatment for dry AMD at this time, although several clinical trials are underway, so there may be options available in the near future. Wet AMD is less common but has more severe vision loss. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina in the macula area and leak blood or fluids, causing blurry vision and scarring. Vision loss is usually faster with wet AMD. Treatment is available in the form of injections, but it is vital to catch it early for the best visual outcome.
Certain risk factors can increase your chance of developing AMD. These risk factors include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Having a family history also increases the risk. Caucasians are at a higher risk, especially those with light eyes. In addition, females often develop AMD at an earlier age than males. There is also the belief that the blue light emitted from electronic devices may increase the risk of macular degeneration.
A few lifestyle modifications can lower the risk of progression of AMD. Cessation of cigarette smoking and a healthy diet that includes green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale may help protect against AMD. The AREDS 2 clinical study found that nutritional supplements containing antioxidants, lutein, and zeaxanthin can lower the risk of dry AMD progressing to wet AMD. Wearing sunglasses that protect your eyes from harmful UV rays is recommended.
Lens coatings are available for eyeglass lenses that reduce the amount of blue light transmitted.
The most valuable way to protect your eyesight is by having regular eye examinations. Doing this can help you catch eye problems early. It is essential to schedule an exam immediately if you notice changes in your central vision. Our doctors at the Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida value your vision and are here to help you with all your eye care needs. Give us a call at 1-800-282-EYES(3937) to schedule your appointment today or visit our website EYESFL.COM!
Bio: Dr. Julia King is a Board-Certified Optometric Physician. She received her Doctor of Optometry Degree from Nova Southeastern University. She sees patients at the Lake Wales location for Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida.