Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss in adults over age 50. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1.8 million people have AMD and another 7.3 million are at substantial risk for vision loss from AMD.
Caucasians are at higher risk for developing AMD than other races. Women also develop AMD at an earlier age than men.
This eye disease occurs when there are changes to the macula, a small portion of the retina that is located on the inside back layer of the eye. AMD is a loss of central vision that can occur in two forms: “dry” (atrophic) and “wet” (exudative).
Most people with macular degeneration have the dry form, for which there is no known treatment. The less common wet form may respond to laser procedures and medication injections, if diagnosed and treated early.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of AMD
In its early stages, the following signs of macular degeneration can go unnoticed.
- Gradual loss of ability to see objects clearly.
- Shape of objects appears distorted.
- Straight lines look wavy or crooked.
- Loss of clear color vision.
- A dark or empty area in the center of vision.
If you experience any of the above signs or symptoms, contact Boerne Vision Center immediately for a comprehensive eye examination. Dr. Johnson will perform a variety of tests to determine if you have macular degeneration or any other eye health problems. See Amsler Grid below.
Central vision that is lost to macular degeneration cannot be restored. However, low-vision devices, such as telescopic and microscopic lenses, can maximize existing vision.
Treatment of AMD
With “dry” macular degeneration, the tissue of the macula gradually becomes thin and stops working properly. There is no cure for dry AMD, and any loss in central vision cannot be restored. However, researchers and doctors believe there is a link between nutrition and the progression of dry AMD. Making dietary changes and taking nutritional supplements can slow vision loss.
Less common, “wet” macular degeneration occurs when fluids leak from newly formed blood vessels under the macula. This leakage blurs central vision. Vision loss can be rapid and severe.
If detected early, wet AMD can be treated with laser treatment, which is often called photocoagulation. A highly focused beam of light seals the leaking blood vessels that are damaging the macula. Or in photodynamic therapy (PDT), a medication is injected into the bloodstream, which is then activated by shining a laser into the eye. Medication can also be injected into the back of the eye to slow the growth of leaky blood vessels. None of these are permanent cures, but they can help minimize vision loss. Dr. Brodrick is the retinal specialist who will performing these treatments.
Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, including macular degeneration. For more information on the importance of good nutrition and eye health, please see the diet and nutrition section.
How To Do The Amsler Grid Test
Testing your eyes with an Amsler grid is easy and takes only a few minutes. Here are the basic steps:
- Test your eyes under normal room lighting used for reading.
- Wear eyeglasses you normally wear for reading (even if you wear only store-bought reading glasses.
- Hold the Amsler grid approximately 14 to 16 inches from your eyes.
- Test each eye separately: Cup your hand over one eye while testing the other eye.
- Keep your eye focused on the dot in the center of the grid and answer these questions:
- Do any of the lines in the grid appear wavy, blurred or distorted?
- Do all the boxes in the grid look square and the same size?
- Are there any “holes” (missing areas) or dark areas in the grid?
- Can you see all corners and sides of the grid (while keeping your eye on the central dot)?
- Switch to the other eye and repeat.
For more info visit: www.allaboutvision.com
Dr. Johnson is a proud member of the American Optometric Association (AOA). Some content are copyrighted information courtesy of the AOA.