Age-related eye conditions are frustrating, especially when they interfere with your daily life. If you’re straining to watch the game on TV or having trouble distinguishing faces, it may be time for a visit to the eye doctor. A variety of eye health issues can cause vision problems (like the inability to see faces or TV screens clearly), and catching them early can help prevent further damage.
Read on for five things to know about age-related macular degeneration (AMD), including the risk factors and symptoms to watch out for.
1. What is AMD?
The leading cause of serious vision loss among those age 50 and older, AMD is a common eye condition affecting an estimated 1.8 million people.
AMD is a condition that affects the eye’s macula, which helps you focus on the faces or objects in front of you. When this part of the eye is damaged, it results in declining vision.
There are two forms of AMD: wet and dry. The dry type is more common; results from deposits forming on the retina; often progresses more slowly
2. Who is at risk?
Besides being age 50 or older, several factors impact an individual’s risk of developing AMD:
While women aren’t necessarily at a higher risk of developing AMD, they do tend to develop the disease at an earlier age than men do.
Caucasian individuals are more likely to develop AMD than African Americans or Latinos.
There aren’t currently any guaranteed tests to predict who will develop AMD. but, like many conditions, those with a family history of AMD have a greater risk of developing the disease themselves.
Doctors and researchers believe some lifestyle adjustments can decrease your risk of developing AMD. Not smoking, keeping your cholesterol low, wearing sunglasses, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly may allow you to prevent AMD.
3. What are the symptoms of AMD?
While doctors identify the progression of AMD in three stages (early, intermediate, and late), the first two stages of the condition usually present minimal, if any, symptoms. Getting a regular eye exam can help you catch signs of AMD before you ever experience any vision loss.
When symptoms are present, they can often go unnoticed. Be sure to contact your eye doctor immediately if you experience:
- Inability to see faces or objects clearly
- Objects appearing distorted
- Lines appearing crooked or wavy
- Decrease in color vision
- Dark space in the center of your vision
4. How is AMD managed or treated?
As we said before, most individuals develop dry AMD, which unfortunately has no straightforward treatment. However, vision loss is often slow and requires minimal adjustments over time. We recommend regularly visiting your eye doctor and adding nutrients linked to a slower progression of AMD (like extra Vitamin C and zinc) to your diet.
Those diagnosed with wet AMD may respond to treatments. While vision loss is faster and more serious with wet AMD, early detection can provide time to try laser treatments, injections, and drug therapy—methods that are proven to slow AMD.
While no treatment can reverse vision loss, the progression of wet AMD can be slowed or even stopped. Additionally, all patients with AMD can benefit from talking to their ophthalmologist about low vision aids that provide more light and magnification.
5. What does an AMD diagnosis mean for you?
While your treatment options depend on the type of AMD you have, all patients with a diagnosis should try to adopt a healthier lifestyle if possible. Taking the recommended vitamins, exercising, and eating well are great ways to keep your eyes as healthy as possible.
If you are diagnosed with AMD, your life is far from over! While experiencing vision loss can be stressful and upsetting, a good support network and regular visits to the eye doctor can help you stay positive and knowledgeable about your condition and options. Additionally, low vision technology is available to make daily activities easier, even as vision loss occurs.
While AMD isn’t the end of the road, it’s important to recognize risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options. With regular visits to your eye doctor, you can learn about your likelihood of developing AMD so you can make lifestyle adjustments that may prevent it.
Williamson Eye Institute is dedicated to assisting our patients with their vision and eye-related needs throughout the years. To find out more about our services, visit our website or call our office to schedule a personal consultation. You can also find us on Facebook and LinkedIn.