Inside the eye, the macula, located in the very center of the retina, is responsible for high-resolution, central vision, and is home to a high density of cone cells. As an individual ages, the macula naturally deteriorates, and AMD can be the result.
AMD is the leading cause of blindness in North America in adults over the age of 55. A naturally occurring process that comes with aging, age-related macular degeneration impacts visual acuity and may cause blurred central vision – meaning that dark spots or straight lines appear in the vision without any type of pattern.
Caused by enlarged or irregular blood vessels near the center of the retina. As the vessels change, fluid may leak and cause serious destruction to the retina. Drastic, sudden changes in vision are typical symptoms of wet AMD.
This is the more common type of AMD and is caused by age as cells within the macula degenerate over time. While deterioration is often slow, it may eventually result in total vision loss.
Dry AMD may be categorized as early, intermediate or advanced depending on the severity of the symptoms.
At your routine eye exam, if your optometrist suspects macular degeneration in your eyes, they may bring you back for further testing. This macular assessment often includes a dilated fundus exam where drops are placed in your eyes to dilate your pupils and allows a more detailed view of the back of your eye.
You may also have your retina scanned with an instrument called an OCT that gives the doctor a detailed view of the individual layers of your retina. Your Eye Care Centre optometrist will discuss the condition, further treatment options, and offer a referral to a specialist as required. And, of course, we’re always here to answer your questions.
While age is a major risk factor for AMD, there are other factors that make an individual more susceptible to this condition. Those include smoking, race, genetics and family history.
Smoking may double the risks, while AMD is more common with Caucasians than other races. Keep up on regular exercise, maintain cholesterol and blood pressure and eat a healthy diet to lower your risks of getting AMD.
Symptoms of AMD may not be noticeable for long periods of time, as they are typically subdued in the beginning. While it’s difficult to avoid AMD, it can be managed with regularly scheduled eye exams for patients over the age of 60.
A healthy diet and awareness of UV exposure can also help to delay the start of AMD, although the condition is natural with aging.
Regular eye appointments can help you head off any age-related problems, and present a treatment plan to dealing with them early. Call us today to schedule an appointment.