Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in those over the age of 60 in the United States. Knowing what and why it is happening empowers those facing it and family members helping loved ones overcome any obstacles.
While there is no cure, early detection plays a tremendous and vital role in maintaining your eye’s macular health and reducing the progression of the degeneration.
While several risk factors like age, family history and race – with Caucasian heredity at a higher risk – are uncontrollable, other environmental factors play a significant part and can be controlled. Being conscious of smoking and exposure to UV light can reduce the risk of macular degeneration.
The retina is the back lining of the eye that “captures” light, and the macula is the minuscule center of the retina. Even though it is small, the macula is responsible for detailed vision. Macular Degeneration is the deterioration of the macula. When you read or see the features in someone’s face, it is the macular portion of the retina that is responsible for the detail. So if there is damage to the macula, a person loses the ability to see refined and sharpened images which greatly affects one’s quality of life.
There are two types of Macular Degeneration – dry and wet. The dry form affects approximately 85% of all AMD patients. Dry refers to a slow deterioration of the macula. There may be no treatment, but the the Age-Related Eye Disease, AREDS and AREDS 2, showed that certain vitamins and minerals can slow the progression of the disease in some patients. Whereas the wet form occurs when new blood vessels grow into the damaged macula. These blood vessels can break and bleed causing the fluid to damage and scar the macula. While the wet form tends to be more aggressive and cause more harm, this form does have treatment options. Injections and laser treatments are used to control, not cure, wet AMD.
The diagnosis of either type of AMD is made with a dilated eye exam. Tests like optical coherence tomography (OCT) can often detect early signs of AMD. Although a painless disease, you don’t have to face the symptoms alone. Talk to the staff and the doctors at Antietam Eye to find out what options work for you.
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