AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration)
10 Million Americans Face This
An eye examination is more than just prescribing glasses and contacts – it’s about checking the health of your eyes.
This month, we are taking a moment to increase awareness about Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD is a chronic eye disease that causes loss of the straight-ahead vision that is crucial for activities like reading or driving. AMD affects more than 10 million Americans and is now the leading cause of blindness in adults over 60 years of age.
During your annual eye examination, your optometrist might observe signs that you have AMD. Additional testing like the Optical coherence tomography (OCT) and Optomap plus give your eye doctor the necessary images to determine if you have AMD. Once diagnosed, necessary steps can be taken to help preserve your vision.
Top 5 Risk Factors for AMD
Knowing the risk factors, being aware of family history, and keeping regular appointments with your optometrists and ophthalmologist can help reduce the risks for vision loss from macular degeneration. In its most severe form, known as wet AMD, the disease can lead to permanent loss of central vision which is essential for driving, reading, and recognizing faces.
A strong risk factor is also family history. Speak to your relatives to find out if anyone has had AMD, and communicate this to your eye doctor at your next appointment. You could save your sight just by knowing your risk factors and going in for your eye check up.
Here are the top 5 risk factors for AMD:
- Being over the age of 60
- Having a family history of AMD
- Cigarette smoking
If you have at least 2 of these risk factors, you should make an appointment to get your eyes examined by an eye care professional.
How does AMD occur?
The American Society of Retina Specialists explains how AMD occurs:
“During normal aging, yellowish deposits, called drusen, form under the retina, which is the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye that provides clear, sharp images. As drusen increase in size and number, they can interfere with proper functioning of the retina, damaging or killing the light-sensitive cells of the macula.
Because the macula’s light-sensitive cells provide the ability to have sharp, detailed vision, the results can be blurring of central vision and a devastating impact on the ability to enjoy activities of daily life, such as reading, driving, or even recognizing the face of a friend or family member.
This form of Age-related Macular Degeneration is called dry AMD. Dry AMD can be a precursor to wet AMD.”
In this image, you can see the difference between a normal eye, and an eye that has been affected by AMD (notice the tiny yellow dots – drusen).
The earliest signs of AMD can be detected during a comprehensive eye exam before any vision loss has occurred.
AMD Treatment Options
Treatments for AMD can include nutritional and dietary changes, drops, prescription drugs and laser therapy. Once diagnosed, we partner with Houston’s leading ophthalmologists to help keep track of our patient’s progress.
Make a habit of wearing polarized sunglasses which helps block harmful blue-light rays that can affect the health of your eye, and get your eyes examined every year. A yearly comprehensive eye exam is the best way to detect AMD before any lasting damage is done.
Most important of all, here at Vision Source, our optometrists give thorough comprehensive eye examinations and have the advanced imaging technology necessary to diagnose AMD. If any of our patients develop macular degeneration significant enough to require advanced treatment, we partner with the best retinal specialists to give you the eye care you need and deserve.