Vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a growing problem in the United States. Millions of people suffer from the effects of age-related macular degeneration, and the number of Americans suffering from AMD is expected to nearly double over the next ten years.
What is age-related macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disease that affects the macula, which is the portion of the retina responsible for central vision. AMD comes in two forms: "dry" macular degeneration and "wet" macular degeneration. The dry form of AMD is the most common form and represents the earliest stage of the disease. The wet form is the more advanced and damaging form of the disease and causes serious vision loss.
Symptoms of age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration results in a gradual loss of central vision. Early symptoms of AMD include:
Shadowy or dark areas in central vision
Distorted appearance of objects
Straight lines appearing crooked, blurred, or wavy
Causes of age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is caused by the aging and thinning of macular tissues and the formation of new blood vessels under the macula. "Wet" AMD occurs when fluid leaks from the new blood vessels.
Just a few of the risk factors associated with age-related macular degeneration include:
Age (risk of developing AMD increases with age)
Race (AMD is more common in Caucasians)
Family history of AMD
Eye and skin pigmentation (AMD is more common in people with light colored eyes and skin)
Gender (AMD is more common in women)
Treatment of age-related macular degeneration
There is no easy cure for age-related macular degeneration. The goal of treatment is to delay the progression of the disease and help restore some of the vision loss caused by the disease.
There is no known treatment for the early stage of macular degeneration, the "dry" form. Instead, doctors will monitor the disease and may recommend following a nutrition program to stop progression to the wet form of AMD. Wet AMD can be treated with laser surgery to seal the leaking blood vessels. Low vision devices are also available to deal with the effects of both forms of AMD.
If you have concerns schedule an appointment with your eye care professional. Also if you have a family history but no symptoms it is important to get checked to ensure you do not have any early signs.