At Rivertown Eye Care in Hastings, MN, we're committed to educating our community about age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of permanent vision loss for individuals over fifty. AMD affects the macula, the central part of the retina, which is crucial for clear, detailed vision. As AMD progresses, it can significantly hinder one's ability to perform tasks that require sharp central vision, like reading, writing, or driving safely.
The Silent Progression of AMD
Unlike other eye conditions, AMD doesn't typically cause pain or immediate symptoms, allowing it to progress unnoticed, especially in those who visit an eye doctor only for prescription updates. As AMD advances, vision may appear warped, dull, or partially obscured by dark, blurry patches
Understanding the Risk Factors of AMD
While aging is the primary risk factor for AMD, other uncontrollable factors like race and genetics also play a role. For example, white individuals have a higher predisposition to AMD, according to research at the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine. Knowing your family's eye health history is essential. However, there's a significant risk factor within our control – smoking, which markedly increases the likelihood of developing AMD.
Types of AMD: Wet and Dry
Dry AMD, the more common form found in 90% of cases, involves the thinning of macula tissues and the buildup of drusen (fatty deposits). While less severe initially, dry AMD can progress to the more serious wet AMD, which shares similarities with diabetic retinopathy. In wet AMD, unstable new blood vessels grow under the retina, leading to scarring and accelerated vision loss.
You can learn more on our BLOG POST about Macular Degeneration.
Here is a breakdown of Wet and Dry AMD:
Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Dry AMD):
Progression: Develops slowly over time, leading to gradual vision loss.
Symptoms: Blurriness, difficulty reading or recognizing faces, and a gradual decrease in central vision.
Prevalence: More common, accounting for about 80-90% of AMD cases.
Cause: Typically caused by the thinning of macular tissues and the buildup of drusen (tiny yellowish deposits) in the macula.
Treatment: No specific treatment to reverse it, but progression can be slowed with dietary changes, supplements, and lifestyle modifications.
Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Wet AMD):
Progression: Rapid onset, leading to quick and severe vision loss.
Symptoms: Distorted vision (straight lines appear wavy), dark spots in central vision, and rapid loss of central vision.
Prevalence: Less common but more serious, accounting for about 10-20% of AMD cases.
Cause: Caused by abnormal growth of blood vessels under the retina, which leak fluid or blood.
Treatment: Treatable with VEGF inhibitor injections which help reduce the number and growth of abnormal blood vessels, laser therapy, and photodynamic therapy.
Combating AMD with a Healthy Lifestyle
While there's no cure for AMD, a healthy lifestyle can slow its progression. Eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients like those found in carrots, leafy greens, eggs, and fish supports eye health. Regular exercise and avoiding smoking are also key preventive measures.
Your Trusted Eye Health Partner
Early detection through regular eye exams is crucial in combating AMD-related vision loss. This is particularly important for anyone over 50. Yearly eye exams are a priority, even if no eye problems seem apparent. At Rivertown Eye Care, we're dedicated to providing comprehensive eye care and advice to our Hastings community.
We're grateful to have you as part of our Rivertown Eye Care family and look forward to helping you have a future of clear, healthy vision!