Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in people over 50 in which the central portion of the retina, called the macula, is damaged as a result of the hardening of the small arteries supplying oxygen and nutrients to the retinal tissue. There are two main types of Age Related Macular Degeneration: Dry Macular Degeneration and Wet Macular Degeneration. Dry Macular Degeneration is the most common type of Age Related Macular Degeneration making up 85-90% of cases, resulting in a slow progressive loss of vision. Typically, we see small, yellow colored deposits between the retinal layers, which are called drusen. Many people 50 years of age or older have some drusen as they age and may be asked to schedule eye exams more frequently in order to monitor them as there is some possibility that Dry Macular Degeneration will progress to Wet Macular Degeneration. We need to detect Wet Macular Degeneration quickly as it has far more serious consequences for vision loss. Wet Macular Degeneration is characterized by an abnormal growth of new blood vessels under the retina, called “neovascularization,” which is prone to be leaky and can easily break and bleed. If leakage occurs, the macula may actually begin to swell, bleed and scar causing severe loss of central vision, which may be irreversible.
Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Anyone over the age of 50, and especially seniors, should take a moment to learn about risk factors for age related macular degeneration (AMD). YOU can make a difference in preserving your vision by knowing your risk factors, being aware of your family history, and scheduling regular eye exam appointments. As with many age related eye problems, the key to preventing vision loss from age related macular degeneration is early detection, diagnosis and treatment as recommended by your eye doctor.
Top AMD Risks You Should Know
- Being over the Age of 60
- Having a Family History of AMD
- Cigarette Smoking
- Hypertension & Cardiovascular Disease
If you have any two of these risk factors, you should schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam and evaluation. We may recommend certain lifestyle choices and preventative measures to help you manage the risks and hopefully reduce your risk of vision loss.
Diagnosis of Macular Degeneration
Early detection, diagnosis and treatment are the keys to preventing vision loss from Macular Degeneration. It is often possible to detect early signs of Macular Degeneration during your regular eye examination, so scheduling regular eye exams is an excellent way to make an early diagnosis of Macular Degeneration. If you are over the age of 40-45 and you have a family history of Macular Degeneration, we recommend that you have a thorough eye examination, including a dilated retinal evaluation, each year. Please be sure to tell our staff if you have a family history of Macular Degeneration. It is also important to know the symptoms of Macular Degeneration. If at any time you experience “distortion” or “twisting”, “shadowing” or “bending” of objects in your vision, you should schedule an appointment immediately.
Treatment of Macular Degeneration
At Central Maryland Eye Associates we perform in-office Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) exams and diagnostic testing as well work with your primary care physician and retina specialists to be certain you have access to the care you might need including non-surgical retina injection treatment with Lucentis®, Eylea®, Avastin or other medications if needed to help maintain your vision and prevent vision loss. With regular eye exams, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, vision loss from AMD can be halted in most instances.