We all know our eyes change as they age, but Age-Related Macular Degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss among people ages 50 and older, according to The National Eye Institute (NEI).
Here are 5 facts NEI has developed to help you navigate detection, symptoms and treatment.
- What is AMD?
AMD causes damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision. Risk factors for the disease include environmental factors like smoking, as well as genetic factors and family history. You may be able to slow its progression by eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and fish, avoiding smoking, exercising regularly and maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- What are the symptoms of AMD?
In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, it progresses quickly and can lead to vision loss in one or both eyes. As the disease progresses, a blurred area near the center of vision is a common symptom. Individuals may develop blank spots in their central vision, or objects may not appear as bright as they used to be.
- Does AMD cause blindness?
AMD by itself does not lead to complete blindness. The loss of vision in AMD can interfere with everyday activities such as the ability to see faces, drive, read, write or other work that requires up close vision.
- How is AMD detected?
A comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to diagnose AMD. Dilation enables your Ophthalmologist to view the inside of the eye allowing him/her to identify and diagnose eye problems that they may otherwise not see. Drops placed in each eye widen the pupil. Dilating the pupil allows more light to enter the eye the same way opening a door allows light into a dark room. In AMD, the exam may show yellow deposits called drusen or clumps of pigment beneath the retina. In some cases, the exam may also show abnormal growth of blood vessels beneath the retina.
- How is AMD treated?
Researchers at the National Eye Institute found that daily intake of certain high-dose vitamins and minerals can slow progression of the disease in people who have intermediate AMD, and those who have late AMD in one eye. Other options include drug injections or surgical intervention. Discuss options with your eye care professional based on your health history and AMD stage.
Everyone should be screened on a regular basis for diseases like AMD to ensure they are caught as early as possible and to facilitate treatment. In addition to screening for these diseases, a retinal screening by an ophthalmologist can provide insight into your vascular health, catching signs of damage that otherwise could go undetected.
Start protecting your eyes today, don’t wait until it’s too late. Learn more about compassionate medical and surgical eye care. Trust ZiekerEye Ophthalmology for leading-edge solutions to your vision problems. Call us at 518.450.1080 or use our convenient online Request an Appointment form to connect with our scheduling team.