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Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in adults over the age of 601. 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, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead. AMD won’t cause complete blindness, as it only impacts central vision. But AMD can interfere with our ability to do everyday tasks-like reading, driving, and recognizing faces.
Illustration of effects of MD on vision

Who gets AMD?

  • Smokers2 – We know smoking doubles the risk of AMD
  • Older people – Older age increases risk of developing AMD
  • Family history of AMD – People with a family history are more at risk of developing AMD
  • Race – Caucasians are most likely to develop AMD

The first sign of AMD is drusen in the macula. Drusen look like yellow spots in the macula of the retina. The more advanced AMD becomes, the more pigmentary changes and/or drusen we see in the macula. More advanced forms of AMD can show loss of the vision receptors (dry/geographic atrophy) or abnormal blood vessels forming under the macula (wet/neovascular AMD).

Early and intermediate macular degeneration usually start without any symptoms. That’s why regular, annual eye exams are so important! The tools that we have in our offices allow our eye doctors to recognize even the earliest forms of AMD. The OCT and digital retinal camera help our optometrists to determine if macular degeneration is present. Then your eye doctor is able to provide information, and offer treatment options to try to slow the progression of AMD. Lifestyle modifications, vitamin therapy, laser procedures and injections are available as treatment options, depending on the level of AMD.

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1https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/macular-degeneration/default.htm

2Smoking and Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Review and Update

Sara Velilla, José Javier García-Medina, Alfredo García-Layana, Rosa Dolz-Marco, Sheila Pons-Vázquez, M. Dolores Pinazo-Durán, Francisco Gómez-Ulla, J. Fernando Arévalo, Manuel Díaz-Llopis, Roberto Gallego-Pinazo
J Ophthalmol. 2013; 2013: 895147. Published online 2013 Dec 4. doi: 10.1155/2013/895147