Understanding and Treating Age-Related Macular Degeneration

February 2nd, 2021
senior man rubbing eyes

February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and low vision awareness month. Spreading the word about this topic is extremely important as there is no cure for AMD, and the hope of treatment lies in swift intervention. That’s why having the right information and knowing your risk factors can help you prevent, diagnose and treat AMD before it steals your eyesight.

Continue reading for everything you need to know about this prevalent eye condition.

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

AMD is a progressive eye disease that affects the center area of the retina known as the macula. The macula is responsible for focus and brightness, so as it breaks down, it can lead to blind spots, greyness and distortions in the center line of vision. While it does not typically cause total blindness, AMD is still the leading cause of low vision and severe and permanent vision loss in American 60 years or older. Currently, about 15 million people in the United States have some form of AMD, ranging from mild to more advanced.

What are the Symptoms of AMD?

Typically, AMD will go unnoticed by the affected individual because there are no signs until it progresses or begins to affect both eyes. Eventually, these symptoms may include:

  • Worsening or less clear vision
  • Dark, blurred vision in the center of the eye

These symptoms can impact a patient’s ability to drive, read, and do other everyday activities.

What Causes Age-Related Macular Degeneration

There are two forms of AMD – wet and dry – directly caused by different interactions in the eye. Dry AMD is caused by fat and protein deposits called drusen that build up in the macula. Wet AMD stems from the formation of new blood vessels that then leak into the macula and create scar tissue that break down vision.
As far as the risk factors that may cause AMD, there are many:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Family history
  • Light eye color
  • Gender (the risk is higher for females than males)
  • Race (Caucasians are more likely to develop AMD)
  • Obesity
  • UV rays

How is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?

Because of the nature of this condition to progress unknowingly, AMD must be swiftly detected by an eye doctor. he earlier you catch it, the better. Regular eye exams can allow your to catch changes in your vision and look for drusen that may be key indicators of the development of this condition.
Your eye doctor may also dilate your eye for a clearer look at the retina. If there is anything unusual, they may conduct an optical coherence tomography (OCT) test which will take 3D images of your retina for clearer diagnoses.

Treatment Options for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

There is no cure for AMD, so intervention is your best bet. In its early stages, AMD treatment includes lifestyle changes, like taking various vitamins and wearing special corrective lenses to boost vision.

How to Prevent AMD

The best offense is a strong defense, so taking steps to prevent AMD through healthy choices can make a world of difference.

  • Don’t smoke
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol level
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat leafy greens and fish
  • Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays

If you suspect that you have the symptoms of AMD or are predisposed to the condition, make an appointment with the skilled staff at Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers of Texas. Aside from common procedures, like LASIK surgery and cataract surgery in the greater Dallas area, our state-of-the-art technology and expertise also allow us to diagnose and treat eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration so that you can maintain your highest vision.