What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Dr. Jim Martin 02/19/2018

We can all expect some changes in our vision as we age. Some changes like reading glasses are inevitable; others can be more serious. Getting regular eye exams can help detect eye disease, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and keep your eyes as healthy as possible.

What Is Age-related Macular Degeneration?

The tissue on the inside back part of your eyeball senses light. This area is called the retina. The macula is the center portion of the retina. In age-related macular degeneration, the macula deteriorates causing vision problems and, eventually, loss of central vision.

There are two forms of AMD. The dry form is more common and consists of yellow deposits on the macula. As the deposits grow, vision is increasingly impaired. Eventually, the light-sensitive cells on the macula atrophy causing partial vision loss. In the wet form of AMD, abnormal blood vessels form under the macula. They leak fluid and blood into the retina causing vision problems. Eventually scarring causes vision loss. People with the dry form can develop the wet form.

The first signs are a dim blurry spot in the center of the eye and a change in color perception. Other symptoms include distorted vision (such as straight lines appearing wavy), increased difficulty adapting to lower light conditions, and dark or white out spots in the center of your field of vision. Symptoms can appear and worsen gradually or quickly.

Treatment Options

Early detection and treatment of AMD can slow progression of the disease. It can be detected during a routine eye exam. Treatment is determined by which form of AMD you have, how severe it is, and in some cases, your other health issues.

Medication is commonly recommended and is generally effective at slowing the disease. There are several different medications available and they are given via injection.  Photodynamic therapy is used to treat the wet form of AMD. A photosensitive drug is administered and a cold laser is used to activate the drug as it passes through the blood vessels in the retina. The drug creates a chemical reaction that destroys abnormal blood vessels. The increased effectiveness of medication has reduced the use of other laser therapies.

Other recommendations may include nutritional supplements and adaptive technology, and those can be used in conjunction with the above treatments.

For more information about age-related macular degeneration and treatment options, Broome Optical can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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