Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can be stopped or slowed if caught early enough, making regular eye exams are crucial. However, AMD can lead to blindness if not detected and treated properly.
What is AMD & why must we be aware of it?
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (often referred to as AMD or ARMD) is a medical eye condition which affects older adults. It results in vision loss due to deterioration in the macula, which is the central part of the retina responsible for sharp focus and color vision. AMD is a major cause of blindness in people over 60 years of age.
In honor of February being Age-Related Macular Degeneration Month, here is what you need to know about AMD:
- Age-related macular degeneration is a disease that affects a person’s central vision.
- AMD can result in severe loss of central vision, but people rarely go blind from it, if treated early.
- Risk factors for AMD include being 50 and older, smoking, having high blood pressure and eating a diet high in saturated fat.
- Although there is no cure for AMD, there are treatment options that may halt or slow the progression of the disease.
There are two different types of AMD: Wet and Dry
Dry or Atrophic AMD is a condition in which layers of the macula (including the photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium) get progressively thinner, functioning less and less as they do. This is called atrophy. In the early stage of dry AMD, the pigment or color of the macula changes. Tiny drusen appear on the retina: these are little piles of waste product of the cells of the eye.
There is currently no treatment available for Dry AMD, but your eye doctor might recommend certain vitamins which may slow its progression.
Wet or Exudative AMD affects about 10% of people who have AMD. With this type, breaks in the membrane behind the retina develop and abnormal new blood vessels grow through these breaks. These abnormal vessels can leak and bleed into the retina, causing vision loss due to swelling and/or scarring.
There are treatments available for Wet AMD which can be helpful if applied early. These treatments are aimed at sealing off the leaky blood vessels with a laser or preventing new abnormal blood vessel formation and leakage using medication injected into the eye.
There is no pain associated with AMD, so it is important to get your eyes examined regularly with dilation of your pupils. This is the only way to diagnose AMD. The sooner we detect a problem and initiate treatment, the better chance we will have to preserve your vision. Be Eye Wise and call for an appointment today at one of our convenient offices in Golden Valley, Maple Grove, St. Anthony, or Wayzata!