Aging makes us susceptible to many different diseases and conditions. One of these common conditions is called macular degeneration. Macular degeneration affects millions of people per year, and is a leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 50.
What is age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?
Macular degeneration is a common eye condition that causes damage to the macula. The macula is a small spot near the center of the retina, and is responsible for sharp, central vision. For some people, macular degeneration progresses slowly over a period of many years, and vision loss may not occur for a long time after diagnosis. For others, the condition may progress very quickly. This disease will not lead to complete blindness on its own, but can cause complete loss of central vision.
Who is at risk?
Age is the biggest risk factor for macular degeneration. This disease is most likely to occur in adults over the age of 60, but can occur earlier in some cases.
Other risk factors include:
- Family history and genetics
- General bad health, obesity, and high blood pressure
What are the stages of macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration has two distinct stages:
Dry macular degeneration: Dry AMD is the early stage of the disease. Most of the time, Dry AMD is the result of the aging and thinning of macular tissue, depositing of pigment in the macula, or a combination of the two. Gradual central vision loss may occur. There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for Dry AMD. Some possible treatment methods are in clinical trials.
Wet macular degeneration: Wet AMD occurs in about 10 percent of patients with Dry AMD. Wet AMD causes abnormal blood vessels to grow under the retina. These tiny blood vessels are weak and will begin to leak blood and fluid. This fluid leakage causes permanent damage to the light-sensitive retinal cells, which causes central blind spots.
Dry AMD currently has no available treatments. Some studies are being done on the effects that diet modifications may have on Dry AMD. Some studies have suggested that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the progression of AMD.
Wet AMD treatment is aimed at stopping abnormal blood vessel growth. Vision loss that has already occurred cannot be repaired, but doctors can reduce the risk of further vision loss. This can be done through the use of drugs such as Avastin, Lucentis, Eylea, Macugen, and Visudyne used with Photodynamic Therapy.
Have you been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration? Contact us for your appointment today and see what we can do for you!