Why Everyone is Confused About Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Blurred central, straight-ahead vision is the result of an eye disease known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). But how fast it happens, if it affects one or both eyes, how debilitating it is and what type it is are all factors that vary from person to person. AMD is very common and is found in 11 million people in the United States.1

Blurred central, straight-ahead vision is the result of an eye disease known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). But how fast it happens, if it affects one or both eyes, how debilitating it is and what type it is are all factors that vary from person to person. AMD is very common and is found in 11 million people in the United States.1

The board-certified ophthalmologists at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates of Denver, CO, are highlighting age-related macular degeneration awareness during the month of February. Let’s look at the two types of macular degeneration.

Dry AMD

This type of age-related macular degeneration is very common with 80% of AMD patients experiencing this kind. Dry AMD causes slow central vision loss over time. It is caused by tiny clumps of protein called drusen growing on the macula at the back of the eye. The macula becomes thinner with age and problems with drusen or pigment abnormalities can cause cell loss in the retina. This reduces vision.2

Dry AMD can be classified as early, intermediate or late stage. Early stage doesn’t have any symptoms. Intermediate stage may still have no symptoms or may have mild blurriness or difficulty seeing in low light. Late stage has vision loss, blank spots, and makes straight lines look wavy.1 One eye can be more affected than another and can worsen over time.3

Wet AMD

This kind of age-related macular degeneration is less common and can cause faster vision loss. Dry AMD can turn into Wet AMD at any stage, and when it does, vision loss accelerates and is considered late stage.

Wet AMD occurs when the macula in the back of the eye is damaged by abnormal blood vessels that grow there. People with Wet AMD may notice that straight lines start to look wavy, bent, blurry or crooked. If lines are looking wavy to you, see your ophthalmologist immediately.1

Risk Factors

People who are at higher risk for AMD can be:2, 4

  • Smokers
  • Caucasian
  • High cholesterol
  • Over 50 years old
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Overweight
  • A family history of AMD
  • Exposure to UV light
  • Poor nutrition
  • Lacking exercise

Prevention

To prevent AMD, work on improving your overall health including managing a healthy diet with plenty of leafy greens, yellow fruits, a variety of vegetables, and fish.2 Try adding exercise or more activity to your day.

It is also crucial to stop smoking and get regular comprehensive eye exams.3 Wear UV-protective sunglasses. Finally, keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes under control.2

Treatment

Vision loss caused by AMD is not reversible, however if caught in early stages, you may be able to receive careful treatment to prevent further loss. Injections, photodynamic therapy and laser treatments can help keep AMD under control.1 Supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, Copper Lutein and Zeaxanthin can slow the progress of AMD.2

Finally, there are promising new treatments being explored today to help AMD patients. Gene therapy, new drugs, immune system boosters and stem cell replacements are some of the ground-breaking treatments that ophthalmologists are implementing.5

Get a dilated eye exam today

The first step in diagnosing AMD is getting a comprehensive, dilated eye exam. Your ophthalmologist may use an optical coherence tomography (OCT) exam to look closely at the retina. Call today at one of our two Colorado locations in Denver or Lakewood to schedule an eye exam if you are at risk for AMD or if you have noticed any symptoms.

            Denver: 303-320-1777

            Lakewood: 303-989-2023

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

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

3 https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/what-to-know-about-age-related-macular-degeneration

4 https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/macular-degeneration?sso=y

5 https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/promising-new-treatments-amd

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