If you’ve been thinking about your eye health, you’ve probably encountered the term Age-Related Macular Degeneration or AMD. Despite being one of the leading causes of vision loss in the United States, AMD remains a mystery to the average person. Due to the frequency at which AMD affects the population, you or someone you love may be diagnosed with it at some point. To help you better understand this condition, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide. Read on to discover the facts behind AMD.
AMD is a very common eye condition and can cause damage the macula, a part of your eye, which can lead to vision loss. The speed at which vision loss occurs varies from person to person, but always begins as a blurred spot at the center of your vision. As the disease progresses, this blurred spot grows in size and may be joined by other blind spots in your eyesight. Eventually, AMD can cause loss of central vision, but not complete blindness.
Not sure about what the macula is? That’s totally fine – most people aren’t usually familiar with it until they need to worry about it. However, if you or someone you know is diagnosed with AMD, knowing exactly what and where it is becomes incredibly important. The macula is the central part of your retina and also its most sensitive area. Your retina is responsible for translating light into electrical signals that can be understood by your brain and allow for you to experience vision. If the macula becomes damaged, your brain’s ability to produce clear, central vision is impaired.
Types of AMD
Macular Degeneration occurs in two different forms known as dry and wet AMD. Although both types of AMD are similar in their effect (damage to the macula and reduced central vision), the way in which this effect is caused varies greatly.
Dry AMD is the more common form of AMD and involves a slow process that sees the cells in your macula begin to breakdown over time, causing debris to build up at the back of your eye near your retina. Both the buildup of debris and the damage to your retina eventually causes vision loss.
Wet AMD is the less common form and is distinguished by the irregular growth of blood vessels in the back of the eye. When these blood vessels burst, fluid can leak into your retina which can damage your macula.
AMD can remain undetected within the eye until the damage caused to the macula has begun to affect the quality of your vision. Symptoms to watch out for include:
- Dim, blurred, or blank spots appearing at the center of your vision.
- Changes to the perception of color.
- Lines appearing distorted; diminished ability to perceive straightness.
Although the causes of AMD are still being investigated, some factors have been linked to the disease. AMD is more common among individuals that are over the age of 60, however it is not exclusive to this age range. Smoking, poor exercise habits, and a family history of AMD have also been correlated with its occurrence.
Currently, there is no treatment for early AMD – the stage of AMD which is typified by no symptoms of vision loss. The progress of your macular degeneration should be monitored by a medical professional through regular dilated eye exams to determine the state of your AMD.
Some studies have shown that later stages of AMD can be treated with nutritional supplements which include a high concentration of eye-positive nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, zinc, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids. In some instances, these supplements were able to slow the progression of intermediate stage AMD to later stages.
If you haven’t been diagnosed with AMD, but you wish to protect yourself against it there are a few things that you can do. Eating nutritious foods that strengthen your eye health can help reduce your chance of developing AMD and even preserve your vision for longer if you have been diagnosed. These foods include leafy greens, fish, avocados, and eggs.
Do you have any more questions about Age-Related Macular Degeneration? Let us know! We’re here to help!