February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, an important time to spread the word about this degenerative eye disease. Age-related macular degeneration or AMD causes progressive loss of central vision due to damage to the macula, the area of your retina responsible for sharp, clear central vision. Let’s take a closer look at this eye condition, its different types, risk factors, symptoms, and treatments.
Types of AMD
There are two types of AMD: dry AMD and wet AMD. Dry AMD occurs when fatty deposits called drusen accumulate underneath the retina. This type is more common and develops gradually over years. Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the retina and leak fluid or blood into the macula. It is more serious than dry AMD because it progresses rapidly and can cause sudden vision loss within days or weeks.
Age is the most significant risk factor for developing AMD, but there are other factors that can increase your risk including:
- Family history of AMD
- Gender (women are at higher risk)
- Race (Caucasians are more prone to develop AMD than other races)
- High cholesterol levels
Symptoms of AMD
In its early stages, AMD will cause no symptoms. However, it can still be identified during a thorough eye exam. As the disease progresses, people may experience a range of symptoms, including:
- Blurry vision in one or both eyes
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Seeing wavy lines instead of straight lines
- Blind spots
- Color changes in your vision
- Objects appearing distorted or smaller than they actually are
If any of these symptoms occur suddenly or worsen quickly over time, contact your doctor immediately as early detection is key to slowing down progression. Our eye care professionals at Vision Center, LTD can detect a range of eye diseases during a comprehensive eye exam and recommend a treatment plan.
Treatment options for AMD vary depending on the type and severity. There are currently no treatments available for dry AMD. However, certain lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy and exercising regularly, can help slow down vision loss.
For wet AMD, the most common treatment is anti-VEGF injections, which slow down the growth of abnormal blood cells. Other treatment options include laser surgery, vitamins/antioxidants taken orally, and photodynamic therapy.
While there is no cure for AMD, the good news is there are ways to prevent or slow down vision loss. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, contact our office today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam!