What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

As the years go by, preventing center vision loss—or age-related macular degeneration—is as easy as getting an annual comprehensive eye exam. While macular degeneration can cause severely impeded vision, permanent blindness is not a risk. However, simple activities like reading, sewing, or driving can be difficult with center vision loss.

February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Month, and the board-certified ophthalmologists at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates of Denver, CO, explain the details of this leading cause of vision loss in people aged 50 years or older.1

Symptoms of AMD

Early on, AMD has no symptoms. Your eye could be experiencing damage to the retina in the macula and you would not even know it. After that, your vision’s fine details will be lost, allowing you to only see part of what is in front of you.

Later, symptoms may include seeing lines turn wavy or blurry, faded colors, difficulty seeing in the center of your vision, trouble seeing in low lighting, inability to recognize faces and other vision changes.2

2 Kinds of AMD

Dry AMD is the most common kind of macular degeneration. The macula at the back of the eye becomes thinner as you age. There is no cure and vision loss is permanent. Diet changes and supplements can slow the decline and steps can be taken to protect the other eye.3

Wet AMD, or advanced ADM, is less common and takes place when fluid leaks from blood vessels of the macula. The leakage blurs vision and the loss can be rapid and dramatic. If caught early, wet AMD can be treated by injections and medications.1

Risk Factors for AMD

Your risk of developing AMD is higher if you have any of the following:1,2

  • High saturated fat diet
  • Obesity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Over age 50
  • Caucasian
  • Eye color that is light
  • Heart disease
  • High levels of sunlight
  • Female
  • Family history of AMD

Testing for AMD

AMD can be diagnosed with a visual acuity test, or a common eye chart test to measure visual ability at different distances. Your ophthalmologist will also do a dilation exam where pupils are widened with eye drops so the doctor can see into the back of the eye. If wet AMD is suspected, a fluorescein angiography involves a dye inserted into a vein which travels to the eye. Pictures reveal is the blood vessels in the macula are leaking or not. Finally, a simple grid chart is used to detect AMD called the Amsler grid.4

Treatment for AMD

Treatments for AMD include dietary supplements of vitamins and minerals, healthy lifestyle changes, injections, and photodynamic therapy including laser treatment.3 Injections are called anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) and are used to slow the progression of AMD.4

Get a comprehensive eye appointment today

The best prevention of AMD, in addition to a healthy lifestyle and good diet, is getting a comprehensive eye exam each year. Call one of our two Colorado locations in Denver or Lakewood to schedule your exam today. Ask your ophthalmologist how to stay ahead of AMD and to protect your vision as you age.

            Denver: 303-320-1777

            Lakewood: 303-989-2023

1 https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-macular-degeneration

2 https://preventblindness.org/amd-age-related-macular-degeneration/

3  https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/age-related-macular-degeneration

4 https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/agerelated-macular-degeneration-amd

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