Age-Related Macular Degeneration, AMD, is a leading cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 50. It destroys the macula, which is the small central area of the retina that provides detailed, central vision. With AMD, you lose the ability to see fine details, both close-up and at a distance. Due to the aging population, the number of people affected by AMD is expected to increase significantly in the years ahead.
There are two forms of AMD, dry and wet. About 80% of people with AMD have the dry form. This condition is due to a breakdown or thinning of the macula. Dry AMD usually begins when yellow deposits called drusen form in the macula. As the dry form of the disease progresses it can cause significant vision loss as well. At this time there is no treatment for dry AMD although several clinical trials are underway so there may be options available in the near future. Wet AMD is less common but has more severe vision loss. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina in the area of the macula and leak blood or fluids, causing blurry vision and scarring. Vision loss is often faster with wet AMD. Treatment is available in the form of injections but it is important to catch it early for the best visual outcome.
Certain risk factors can increase your chance of developing AMD. These risk factors include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Having a family history also increases the risk. Caucasians are at a higher risk, especially those with light eyes. Females often develop AMD at an earlier age than males. It is also believed that the blue light emitted from electronic devices may increase the risk of macular degeneration.
There are a few lifestyle modifications that can lower the risk of progression of AMD. Cessation of cigarette smoking along with a healthy diet that includes green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale may be helpful for protecting against AMD. The AREDS 2 clinical study found that nutritional supplements containing antioxidants, lutein, and zeaxanthin can lower the risk of AMD progressing to wet AMD. Wearing sunglasses that protect your eyes from harmful UV rays is recommended. Coatings that reduce the amount of blue light that is transmitted can also be added to your eyeglass lenses.
The most valuable way to protect your eyesight is by having regular eye examinations. Doing this can help you catch eye problems early. It is important to schedule an exam immediately if changes in your central vision are noted. Our doctors at the Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida value your vision and are here to help you with all of your eye care needs. You can learn more about our doctors and our 8 locations by visiting our website, EYESFL.COM or call us at 800-282-3937.
Bio: Dr. Julia King is a Board Certified Optometrist that practices at the Lake Wales location for Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida.