What is Macular Degeneration?
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) can cause central vision loss. Central vision is needed for reading and recognizing faces among other important tasks. AMD is related to age, genetics, environmental and lifestyle factors. Through deliberate lifestyle choices and routine screening, people can influence the impact of AMD. Your ophthalmologist can often detect signs of macular degeneration before any loss of vision occurs.
AMD is the most common cause of severe vision loss in people over 50 years old. AMD affects the central portion of your retina. The retina is like the “movie screen” of the eye. Any distortions to the “movie screen” would cause a distorted image. AMD affects the retina in two forms: Dry AMD and Wet AMD. The dry form of AMD is very common, and typically does not affect vision. It is characterized by the presence of yellowish deposits under the retina, called drusen. If drusen become large, your vision becomes affected. This dry form of AMD can progress to the more visually threatening Wet, or neovascular AMD. Wet AMD is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels underneath the retina that leak fluid or blood causing vision loss. The wet form affects about 10 percent of all people with dry AMD.
The progression of Dry AMD can be delayed by eating food rich in antioxidants (leafy green vegetables), not smoking, controlling your blood pressure and lipids, and UV protection. Wet AMD can typically be halted and even reversed if treatment is sought promptly.
- Wavy or blurred vision
- Warped images
- Loss of central vision
- Difficulty reading under dim light
The early form of macular degeneration does not cause any visual symptoms. Thus, a complete eye examination by an ophthalmologist is recommended annually if you are age 50 or older.