What Is Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration, also known as macular degeneration or simply AMD, is an eye disease that causes loss of central vision. This common condition occurs due to damage to the macula, which is part of your retina. The macula is the oval-shaped pigmented area that is only approximately five millimeters across. But it’s responsible for your central vision, most of your color vision, as well as the fine details of what you see. Macular degeneration may affect one or both of your eyes. It generally doesn’t have an impact on your peripheral vision, though. So, it rarely results in total blindness.
Two Types of AMD
Macular degeneration is a prevalent eye disease. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it’s one of the leading causes of vision loss in people aged 50 years or older. There are two types of AMD — dry and wet.
This form of macular degeneration is the more common one. Eight out of 10 patients diagnosed with the disease have the dry type. Dry AMD can occur when parts of your macula get thinner with age. When this happens, drusen deposits grow. These are tiny clumps of protein and lipids that can pile up and slowly cause central vision loss. There remains no treatment for dry AMD at the moment.
This form is less common but tends to be more severe. You can develop wet AMD when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under your retina. These vessels may leak fluids, which can lead to scarring of your macula. You may lose your vision more quickly with this type than with dry AMD.
Signs to Watch Out For
Dry macular degeneration often causes gradual loss of central vision. But there’s no way for you to know for sure that the vision loss is due to AMD unless you consult with an eye care professional.
In wet macular degeneration, you may experience metamorphopsia. It’s a visual defect characterized by distortion of the central vision. If you have this symptom, you will likely complain that supposedly straight lines appear wavy. Your eye doctor will use an Amsler grid to detect this condition.
Other symptoms that you may experience include blurry or blind spots in your vision field and decreased color brightness and intensity. Other patients with macular degeneration report having difficulty recognizing faces.
Several factors can increase your risk of developing macular degeneration. Experts say that you’re more likely to have AMD if you are over 50 years old, are overweight, eat foods high in saturated fat, and smoke cigarettes. You are also more vulnerable to this eye disease if you have hypertension, high cholesterol levels, and have a family history of macular degeneration.
Treatment and Prevention
Currently, there is no known cure for AMD. But there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and potentially delay its progression once you receive a diagnosis. As reported by the National Eye Institute, you can lower your risk of developing this eye disease by quitting smoking cigarettes. Smokers are twice as likely to develop AMD. Also, you should maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It would be best if you exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Experts recommend one that is rich in nutrients from fish and leafy greens.
To learn more about Macular Degeneration, contact Advanced Vision Institute in Las Vegas, NV at (702) 819-9800 with any questions or to schedule a comprehensive eye examination!