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Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – What you need to know

AMD blog

February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness
Month. If you’re not already aware of AMD, we recommend learning what to watch
for as this is a condition that affects more than 10 million Americans. AMD is
the leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness.

What’s AMD?

AMD is caused by deterioration of the central part of the
retina—the inside back layer of the eye that “records” images the optic nerve
sends to the brain. The retina’s central portion, known as the macula, is
responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability
to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors, and see objects in fine

There are two common types of AMD: dry and wet. Eyes with dry AMD
have changes in the macular pigment that are seen during a dilated examination.
Some patients experience Wet AMD, which is caused by abnormal leaky blood
vessels that grow underneath the retina.

Who is at risk for developing AMD?

While AMD can develop in anyone, there are certain risk factors
that make the disease more likely, including:

  • Older age
  • Diabetes
  • Heredity
  • Smoking
  • Race – AMD is more common among Caucasians

What are the symptoms of AMD?

As AMD progresses, the symptoms that people most often experience
are wavy or blurred vision. When AMD worsens, central vision may be completely
lost while peripheral vision is retained since the rest of the retina continues
to function properly. Those who have advanced AMD are considered legally blind.

How is AMD diagnosed and treated?

AMD is a chronic disease and early detection is key to successful
treatment. Because vision impairment and loss occur later on as the disease
progresses, it is important to keep up with regular eye examinations—especially
if any of the above-listed risk factors apply to you.

For many years there were very few treatment options available.
Luckily, this is no longer the case. We now have medications that can reverse
and prevent vision loss from wet AMD and preventative strategies to slow the
progression of dry AMD.