What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of significant vision loss in adults aged 50 and above. This condition only affects the centre of the vision. It is crucial to note that it rarely causes blindness.
AMD impairs central vision, which impacts small-detail vision as well. The macula, a portion of the retina, is destroyed in AMD. People in advanced stages lose their ability to drive, see faces, and read smaller types. AMD may have no symptoms or indicators in its early stages, thus people may be unaware they have it.
Types of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- Dry – This is the most prevalent form. Approximately 80% of people with AMD have the dry variety. This occurs as the light-sensitive cells in the macula gradually degrade, usually one eye at a time. Source
- Wet – This is the most prevalent cause of serious eyesight loss. Wet AMD develops when abnormal blood vessels form beneath the retina. Source
What causes macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a hereditary eye condition. However, it can occur in individuals who have no family history of the disease. Macular degeneration develops when the macula at the rear of the eye begins to deteriorate for unclear causes. Age-related macular degeneration is also caused by ageing.
Common symptoms of Macular Degeneration
- Blurry or fuzzy vision
- Having trouble recognizing familiar faces
- Straight lines appear wavy
- In the centre of vision, a dark, empty area, or blind spot, emerges
- Loss of central vision, which is required for close-up tasks, driving, reading, and face recognition
One of the most prevalent early symptoms of age-related macular degeneration is the appearance of drusen, which are small yellow deposits in the retina. It could indicate that the eye is on the verge of developing more serious age-related macular degeneration. During an eye exam, your doctor is going to see these.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration Risk Factors
The following are risk factors for both types of AMD:
- High blood pressure or cholesterol levels
- Consuming a lot of saturated fat
- Being overweight
- Being born with a female gender
- Having fair skin
Your eye doctor may do the following tests to identify age-related macular degeneration, in addition to a comprehensive medical history and eye exam:
- Visual acuity test – This common eye chart exam assesses visual abilities at different distances.
- Pupil dilation – It is widening the pupil using eyedrops to enable a close-up inspection of the retina.
- Fluorescein angiography – This diagnostic technique uses a specific dye injected into a vein in the arm to detect wet age-related macular degeneration.
- Amsler grid – This test, used to diagnose wet age-related macular degeneration, employs a checkerboard-like grid to assess whether the straight lines in the pattern appear wavy or missing to the patient.
Treatment for AMD is determined by the stage and type. Since there is currently no treatment for early AMD, your eye doctor will most likely simply monitor how your eyes are doing through common eye exams. Supplemental vitamin and mineral intake may help stop the progression of intermediate AMD if you have it in one or both eyes. If you have late AMD in only one eye, these supplements may help reduce the progression of AMD in the other eye.
If you have wet AMD, you might be able to stop further vision loss with the following treatments:
- Anti-VEGF drugs are medications that your doctor injects into your eye.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment method that combines injections and laser therapy.
Your diet should include these nutrients:
- Orange and grapefruits
- Green and red peppers
- Dry Fruits like cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans
- Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Sweet potatoes
- Chickpeas or lentils
- Quit smoking — or don’t start
- Engage in regular physical activity.
- Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Consume nutritious foods such as leafy green vegetables and fish.