Age-related macular degeneration is a progressive disease and is the leading cause of blindness in older adults. In this disease, there is gradual deterioration of the macula, which is the part of the eye responsible for most of our crisp central vision. Macular degeneration, also called AMD or ARMD, most commonly occurs in Caucasians, females, and patients over the age of 60, but can also occur in other demographics.
What are the Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Occasionally, before people are diagnosed with AMD, they notice central distortion in their vision. Other people experience a slower, gradual loss of vision. However most often, the disease is diagnosed based on clinical signs long before significant symptoms occur. In order to detect these signs, an eye doctor must perform a dilated eye examination.
What Happens After AMD is Diagnosed?
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the disease. If macular degeneration is diagnosed, it is important to closely monitor the disease to detect if it is progressing to a more serious form. Monitoring AMD typically includes self-assessing central vision with an at-home test called an Amsler Grid, which helps patients better notice if visual changes are occurring. Your optometrist may prescribe an antioxidant supplement which can reduce the risk of the disease progressing to a more seriously vision-threatening form. Regular eye exams will be required to closely monitor the disease.
Living with Macular Degeneration
While there is no cure for the macular degeneration, there are millions of Americans living with the disease and navigating the effects of AMD on everyday life. For patients with AMD, there are resources available to allow them to efficiently use their resulting vision. Many patients find success with task lamps, which allow them to more intensely brighten the objects they wish to view. A variety of magnifiers or telescopes can be used to aid in reading and other close-up tasks. Some eye care professionals have specialized in working with patients with AMD and other vision-threatening diseases and helping them navigate the effects of the disease.