Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the macula, a small area of light-sensing cells in the retina where fine vision (central) is located, allowing you see sharp central vision distance, reading near and see small details. The rest of the retina is for peripheral or side vision. As one ages, there may be damage to the retina as part of the normal aging process. This is associated with deposits of tiny pieces of fatty protein called drusen or other pigment changes.
We utilize advanced retinal fundus photography and OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) to diagnose, electronically document and monitor the macula for signs of AMD for any changes.
AMD is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. The exact cause of AMD is not fully understood, but it is strongly associated with aging.
AMD by itself does not lead to complete blindness, with no ability to see. However, the loss of central vision in AMD can interfere with simple everyday activities, such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, write, or do close work.
Risk Factors of AMD
- Age is a major risk factor for AMD. The disease is most likely to occur after age 60, but it can occur earlier. Other risk factors for AMD include
- Smoking. Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of AMD.
- Family history of AMD. People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk.
- Race: white
- Fatty diet
- Elevated cholesterol
- Cardiovascular disease
Regular eye exams are highly recommended to detect macular degeneration early and prevent permanent vision loss.
Symptoms of AMD
- A gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly
- A gradual loss of color vision
- Distorted or blurry vision; straight lines appear bent, crooked, or irregular
- A dark or empty area appearing in the center of vision
- the size of objects may appear different for each eye
In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. As AMD progresses, a blurred area near the center of vision is a common symptom. Over time, the blurred area may grow larger or you may develop blank spots in your central vision. Objects also may not appear to be as bright as they used to be.
Does lifestyle make a difference?
Researchers have found links between AMD and some lifestyle choices, such as smoking. You might be able to reduce your risk of AMD or slow its progression by making these healthy choices:
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Eat a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish
How is AMD detected?
The early and intermediate stages of AMD usually start without symptoms. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD.
The eye exam may include the following:
- Visual acuity test. This eye chart measures how well you see at distances.
- Dilated eye exam.
- Amsler grid. Your eye care professional also may ask you to look at an Amsler grid. Changes in your central vision may cause the lines in the grid to disappear or appear wavy, a sign of AMD.
- Macular/retinal photography.
- OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography). Precise macular thickness measurement and analyses.