Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the macula -- the central most part of the retina (the inner layer at the back of the eye responsible for detailed central vision). The macula is used for reading, driving and recognizing people’s faces.
AMD causes the central vision to blur or distort while the side or peripheral vision remains unaffected. It is the leading cause of blindness in North America in adults over the age of 55.
There are 2 types of AMD: dry and wet, with the dry form being more common. It is also the milder form where there is a gradual degeneration of the central retinal tissues that make up the macula and symptoms develop slowly over time. The wet form is a sudden leakage, or bleeding, from weak blood vessels under the macula and symptoms progress rapidly. Wet AMD accounts for approximately 10% of all cases, but the dry form can develop into the wet form over time.
- In the earliest stages, AMD is symptom free but can be detected during routine eye exams.
- The most common initial symptom is slightly wavy or distorted central vision when performing tasks that require seeing detail.This blurred spot cannot be corrected with eye glasses.
- Over time, the damaged area may increase in size and interfere with reading and recognizing faces.
- There is no pain with AMD.
- Lifelong UV protection and good nutrition are believed to play key roles in preventing AMD.
- Living a healthy lifestyle by keeping your blood pressure down, reducing your intake of fatty foods and not smoking are all recommended.
- A diet high in antioxidants, such as those found in fruits and leafy vegetables, can help prevent AMD.
- Regular eye exams by your Markham Optometrist or eye doctor are also important in the early detection of AMD.
- There is currently no cure for AMD, therefore early detection is crucial.
- Dry AMD is treated with lifestyle modifications like exercise, wearing sunglasses to reduce UV radiation and stopping smoking.
- Many cases of wet AMD can be treated with injections of anti-VEGF therapy into the eye to stop leaking blood vessels.
- Ocular vitamin supplements including lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamins C, E and zinc, can also assist in slowing the progression of AMD.