Age-Related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, is the leading cause of vision loss for people aged 50 years or older in the United States. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, over 10 million Americans are affected by this disease - that’s more than cataracts and glaucoma combined. You may be asking yourself, “How do I know if I’m at risk?”. Lets breakdown the signs, causes, and precautions you can take to prevent this age-related illness.
WHAT IS AMD?
AMD is caused by the deterioration of the macula, the central portion of the retina that allows us to see fine details. Imagine you’re reading your favorite book. You can read all the words on the page, down to the last punctuation mark. With AMD, you would only see blurred lines on the page. AMD affects the ability to drive, read, cook, and complete other necessary tasks. Most people don’t even realize they have it until their vision becomes blurry. You should also know that there are two forms of AMD: dry (atrophic) and wet (exudative).
TWO FORMS OF AMD
Dry AMD is the most common form, occurring in 85%-90% of cases. Dry AMD happens when the light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly begin to disintegrate. You can expect your vision to worsen gradually over time with this form of the disease. Reach out to your doctor if you notice straight lines begin to appear crooked as this is an early symptom of Dry AMD.
Wet AMD is more severe, luckily it only occurs in about 10%-15% of cases. This form of the disease appears when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. The fluid that leaks from these new vessels can cause scarring on the macula, which causes your vision to go much quicker than with Dry AMD. Blurred vision can be an early indicator of Wet AMD.
3 STAGES OF AMD
● Early AMD - you may not be experiencing any symptoms at this time, so it’s important to schedule regular eye exams with your doctor.
● Intermediate AMD - you might start to experience some symptoms like acute vision loss at this phase. A comprehensive eye exam will show signs of AMD, even if you aren’t actually noticing any significant symptoms.
● Late AMD - you will notice significant vision loss
● Age - the number one factor, commonly found in people age 50 or older
● Gender - more common in females
● Race - more common in Caucasians
● High Blood Pressure
● Eye Color
HOW TO PREVENT AMD