Feb 3, 2023 | Eye Diseases

Understanding Age-Related Macular Degeneration

If you’re over the age of 50 and notice your vision is fading, you could be experiencing the onset of age-related macular degeneration or AMD. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people aged 50 or older and can lead to blindness if not treated properly. In this blog post, we explore what AMD is, the different types, risk factors, signs to watch out for, and treatment options.

What is AMD?

AMD is a serious eye disorder that affects your central vision and your ability to see fine details. In AMD, a person’s central vision becomes blurry or distorted due to damage to the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp central vision. Depending on the type, this damage can occur suddenly or gradually as a part of aging. If left untreated, this condition can result in significant vision loss or even blindness.

Types of AMD

Two types of AMD exist: wet and dry. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak fluid or blood into the eye. While less common, this type progresses rapidly and is more likely to cause severe vision loss than dry AMD.

Dry AMD happens when the macula gets thinner with age and small yellow deposits, called drusen, form. The dry type is more common but typically develops slowly over years. Both types can cause changes in your central vision that make everyday activities difficult or impossible to do without assistance. 

Risk factors

Age is the most significant risk factor for age-related macular degeneration. As you age, your risk for developing AMD increases significantly with people aged 50 or older most at risk. Other risk factors include a family history of AMD, race (white adults are at higher risk), smoking, obesity, and medical conditions like high blood pressure and hypertension.

Additionally, people with a lighter eye color appear to be at greater risk of developing the condition than others. Also, since women tend to live longer than men, they are more likely to experience vision loss from AMD as the condition progresses slowly over time.

Signs of AMD

The most common symptom associated with AMD is blurred or distorted central vision, making it difficult to see fine details clearly. Other symptoms include:

  • Straight lines appearing wavy
  • Difficulty recognizing familiar faces
  • Needing brighter light when reading or doing close-up work
  • Difficulty adapting to low-light levels
  • Increased blurriness of printed words

If you notice any of these symptoms, see your eye doctor immediately. Early detection and treatment are key to slowing or preventing vision loss from AMD.

Treatment options

There are currently no treatments available for dry AMD, but certain lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy and quitting smoking, may slow the progression of the disease. For wet AMD, there are several treatments available depending on the severity of your condition.

The most common treatment for vision loss due to wet AMD is anti-VEGF therapy. These medicines are injected into the eye to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels. Other treatment options include laser surgery, photodynamic therapy, and nutritional supplements. Our eye care professionals can work with you to determine the best treatment option for your specific case during a comprehensive eye exam.

Whether you have symptoms or not, the best way to prevent AMD is to get regular eye exams. If you notice sudden vision changes or have any of the risk factors listed above, contact our office today to schedule an appointment!