In light of AMD Awareness Month, we will be taking a look AMD, its forms and ways to reduce progression.
According to Zeiss, “Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in people over age 60, and it is growing at an alarming rate all over the world. “ Currently there is no cure for AMD but treatment may slow down the progression of the disease and prevent severe loss of vision.
There are 2 forms of AMD, the first being Dry. Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease and is caused by parts of the macular progressively getting thinner. Whilst this is occurring, small clumps of protein, also known as drusen, grow. Wet AMD develops when abnormal blood vessels grow into the macula. These leak blood or fluid which leads to scarring of the macula and rapid loss of central vision. Wet AMD can develop very progressively compared to dry AMD but it can now be treated if caught quickly through a fast referral to a specialist.
AMD affects your central vision. It is the deterioration of the macula which is the small central area of your eye’s retina. AMD alone does not lead to complete blindness but the loss of central vision due to AMD can affect everyday tasks. AMD is a progressive disease and it can impact your ability to read, recognise people, drive, watch television etc. For example, if you’re looking at a photo, you may only be able to see the outside of the photo whereas the middle of the photo will be unrecognisable. The disease can affect your near and far vision meaning you are losing a significant amount of vision.
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However, not all cases of AMD lead to fast deterioration if the macula. In some people, AMD can progress so slowly that they don’t lose any vision for a long period of time whereas in others vision can be lost in one or both eyes.
A person who is 60 years old and over is most likely to develop AMD as the disease is age-related. Some other risk factors are smoking, unhealthy diet (being overweight) and exposure to sunlight. If you have a family history of AMD then you should schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist so that you are aware of the symptoms.
Steps to reduce the progression speed:
- Stop smoking – if you smoke ask your doctor for advice on how to quit
- Healthy diet – your diet should be rich in vitamins and foods with omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon
- Exercise – you should maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly
- Routine eye checks – make sure to visit you opticians for regular eye exams. By having regular checks, you are able to monitor the progression of AMD. Additionally, you can ask your optician to help you identify your condition and signs that it may be deteriorating.
If you have already been diagnosed with AMD, it is important that you keep the disease under control and make sure you are getting the correct treatment. The wet form is treatable with injections into the eye of a drug that blocks the disease. Successful treatment usually preserves vision but often has to be repeated many times. The dry form has currently no treatment but tends to be less damaging.
About the experts
Meet the My-iClinic founders, Mr John Bolger and Ms Bola Odufuwa. Two consultant eye surgeons who made it their life goal to make your life better.