What to Know About Macular Degeneration

by Apr 29, 2020

Age-related macular degeneration, also called AMD, is the leading cause of blindness for older adults in the United States.  It is a progressive condition that affects central vision and can cause distortions, blurred vision, and even central blind spots.  Because the general population is getting older, AMD is becoming more and more prevalent, and experts believe it will become even more common in the years to come.  Here are some things to know about age-related macular degeneration.


macular degeneration wet amd

What Causes AMD?

AMD is a degenerative retinal condition.  The retina is the tissue that lines the back of the eye and allows us to see.  Located in the center of the retina is an area known as the macula.  The macula is what provides us with crisp and clear central vision, and it also allows us to see fine details and easily identify colors.  In AMD, the macula slowly becomes damaged due to an accumulation of waste material in the retinal tissue.  As more and more of this waste material accumulates, the macula begins to lose its ability to see clearly.  Increased age is the biggest risk factor for macular degeneration, and it’s more likely to occur in Caucasian individuals.  The use of tobacco products is known to increase the risk of developing AMD, and factors like high blood pressure and obesity may also contribute to its development.  

Common symptoms of macular degeneration included blurred vision that cannot be fixed with glasses, and difficulty with visual tasks including reading fine print, properly seeing colors, or even identifying faces.  Straight lines may appear distorted or wavy.  In more severe cases of AMD, blind spots can occur in the center portion of the vision.  


Stages of Macular Degeneration 

Early stages of the condition are known as dry macular degeneration.  In this stage of AMD, the retina becomes progressively damaged over time.  Vision in dry macular degeneration is highly variably, but in many cases is still relatively good.  Dry AMD can progress to wet macular degeneration in later stages.  Wet AMD occurs when the damage to the retina is so extensive that the macular tissue has begun to bleed.  Once this occurs, scar tissue can form and vision can be permanently affected.  Luckily, only about 10% of cases of AMD progress to this wet form. 


Treatment and Management of AMD

Currently, there is no method of completely curing AMD or reversing the damage done by the condition.  However, there are treatment options to help slow the progression of the condition or manage the side effects.  Eye vitamins called AREDS2 are specially formulated to improve macular health and slow the progression of intermediate forms of macular degeneration.  In cases of wet AMD, procedures such as injections or laser treatments are oftentimes used to prevent any future retinal damage.  Beyond medical or surgical treatment options, those affected by AMD can turn to low vision rehabilitation services.  This includes special optical devices, like magnifiers or telescopes, and unique adaptive techniques to help those affected by macular degeneration maintain independence and maximize their vision.  


Our eye doctors at Wilmington Family Eye Care in Wilmington, DE excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye disese. Call our optometrists at 302-299-1286 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to be evaluated for macular degeneration (AMD). Our eye doctors, Drs. Daniel Baruffi, Joseph Goldberg, and Karen Darrell Maxam provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Wilmington, Delaware and its surrounding areas.

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