What to Know About Age-Related Macular Degeneration 

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February is Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Month, and it’s important to be aware of this eye condition that can lead to severe vision loss. Let’s take a look at what AMD is, its risk factors, types, symptoms, and treatment options. With this information, you will be more empowered to take control of your eye health and get the care you need if you have AMD. 

What is age-related macular degeneration? 

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that affects the center part of the retina—called the macula—which allows people to see details clearly. Over time, AMD slowly destroys your central vision due to damage to the macula. This type of vision loss cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. While AMD does not affect peripheral vision, it can cause distorted images or blind spots in your central vision. 

Risk factors for AMD 

The most significant risk factor for developing AMD is age, with people aged 50 and older being at the highest risk. Other risk factors include smoking, a family history of AMD, high cholesterol levels, being Caucasian, and obesity. People with lighter-colored eyes are also more likely to develop AMD than those with darker eyes. 

Types & symptoms of AMD 

There are two main types of age-related macular degeneration: dry AMD and wet AMD. The dry form is much more common and occurs as the inner layers of the macula break down over time. 

The wet form develops when abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina. These vessels can leak fluid or bleed into the eye, causing scar tissue to form on the macula and resulting in rapid vision loss. Both forms may present with blurry vision or blind spots in the central vision as well as difficulty doing up-close work or discriminating between faces. 

People with AMD may also see wavy lines when looking at straight lines. For example, lines of text may appear wavy instead of straight when reading a book. 

Treatment options for AMD 

Currently, there is no cure for the dry form of AMD. However, taking supplements can help slow down its progression and preserve remaining vision if caught early during regular eye exams. For wet AMD, common treatments include photodynamic therapy, laser surgery, and anti-VEFG injections.            

While AMD typically occurs in individuals 50 and older, anyone can develop this disease, especially if you have any of the risk factors listed above. Being aware of the signs and scheduling regular eye exams will help you ensure early detection and protect your vision. If you have some of the symptoms of AMD or are at high risk of developing this disease, contact our practice to schedule an exam today!   

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