AMD, or age-related macular degeneration, is a disease of the retina and is one of the most prevalent causes of eyesight loss among people 60 years and older. Despite causing vision loss, it usually does not leave the patients completely blind. It mainly affects central vision, which means you can generally see perfectly well in your peripheral.
The condition usually develops slowly, showing signs only when it is fully developed. One form of the disease may cause damage quickly, while the other takes time. As such, you must have regular eye exams once you turn 40 to ensure you address this disease early on. Early detection is key to treatment and management. You can have the condition and still have your eyesight for years.
As mentioned above, AMD is an eye disease that affects the macula and your central vision. It does this because of the changes it causes in the macula, a small part of the retina responsible for central vision. The condition may develop in both eyes or just one of them. It is so prevalent that over ten million people in America have the disease. It affects more people than glaucoma and cataracts combined.
Usually, there are two main forms of the disease: wet (exudative) and dry (atrophic).
This form of AMD is the more severe of the two, usually causing rapid loss of vision. It affects about 10% of all the people who have AMD. This form does not involve different stages and requires immediate treatment to prevent vision loss. The reason it is called wet is because of how it occurs.
The condition causes the development of abnormal and unhealthy blood vessels underneath the retina, particularly the macula. The blood vessels, through choroidal neovascularization, leak fluid and blood. The fluid builds up under the macula, causing changes in your vision. One of the telltale signs of the condition is black spots in your central vision.
Dry or atrophic AMD is the milder of the two conditions. It develops more slowly, giving more time for an intervention. Also, the condition doesn’t always cause a complete loss of central vision as it advances.
Unlike exudative AMD, it is not caused by abnormal blood vessels. Rather, it develops when yellow deposits form under the retina in the macula. These tiny deposits are called drusen; when they build up, they lead to the thinning of the macula. Sometimes, dry AMD can lead to wet AMD, but it is rare for that to happen.
The leading cause of the condition is currently unknown. Some theorize that it may develop from years of exposure to UV light, but this still needs to be studied. You are more likely to develop the condition if someone in your family has had the disease.
The symptoms usually develop once the condition is advanced. The most common symptoms are:
The appearance of curves or waves in straight lines
Black or dark spots in your central vision
Low or blurry vision
For more on the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration or to schedule an appointment for a medical eye exam, contact Coastal Family Eyecare at our office in Orange Beach, Alabama. Call (251) 974-1233 to book an appointment today.