Are you struggling to keep your central vision focused? Are you currently finding it harder to read, drive, cook, or do any activities that require up close vision? Do your elderly family members struggle to see straight ahead clearly? These symptoms may be the result of Age Related Macular Degeneration or AMD.
What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-related Macular Degeneration is one of the most common reasons for vision loss in adults. Age-related Macular Degeneration is an eye disease that affects a specific part of the retina called the macula. It occurs when the macular is damaged over time. Without a healthy macula, a person will find it very hard to see clearly when looking straight.
AMD is usually a slow progressing disease. It is harder to observe in some patients while others develop it much faster. Accordingly, it is advised to get regular eye exams to find out if your eyes are healthy.
Age Related Macular Degeneration types and stages
There are two types of AMD:
- Dry AMD is the most common type. As we age, the macula in our retina wears down and gets thinner and thinner.
- Wet AMD is not as common. It is when abnormal blood vessels grow in the back of the eye. These abnormal vessels may leak blood or other fluids, causing scarring of the macula. You lose vision faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD. Dry AMD can become Wet AMD during any stage.
Risk factors of Age-related Macular Degeneration
As mentioned before, it occurs due to damage inflicted on the macula over a long period of time. However, some people are more at risk than others. The risk factors of AMD are:
- A family history of AMD
- Genetics (Women, Caucasian people, and those born with lighter hair and eyes are more likely to develop AMD)
- Age (Being over 50 years old gives you a higher chance of developing AMD)
- Diet (Having a diet of high saturated fats and becoming overweight can also heighten your risk)
How can I prevent Age-related Macular Degeneration?
- Not smoking.
- Regular exercise and physical activity.
- Maintain a low cholesterol, and healthy diet full of key antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E.
- Avoid eating foods high in saturated fat.
- Mind your blood pressure.
- Taking supplements and eye vitamins.
- Using an Amsler Grid everyday to check your vision.
- Most importantly, wear optical grade sunglasses. Studies show that the macula is vulnerable to the damaging effects of light. In order to properly protect your eyes, it is recommended to wear protective optical grade sunglasses.
How to use the Amsler Grid everyday
- You can use Amsler Grid to help identify any problems with the macula. This grid can be used to help monitor your vision if you may be at risk for AMD. In order to use an Amsler grid;
- Use normal room lighting
- Hold the grid at about 14-16 inches away from the face
- Test each eye individually. Cover one eye at a time.
- Focus on the center of the grid and ask yourself
- Does anything in the grid appear distorted or blurred?
- Do all of the boxes look the same?
- Are there any missing patches or holes in the grid?
- Are all of the corners visible?
Example of an Amsler Grid with normal central vision vs abnormal central vision
There are certain vitamins and minerals that may help to slow down the progression of AMD. These are:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Studies show that these minerals may help to slow the progression by 25%. More importantly, Carotenoids are also helpful to consume. Not only that, this help give pigment to the macula. Additionally, Carotenoids are important because of how they help absorb harmful blue wavelengths of light. Research suggests that people with a low level of macular pigment may be more at risk of developing AMD. Carotenoids are found in many vegetables. A healthy diet is highly suggested in order to avoid AMD. Some vegetables that have high levels of carotenoids are:
- Red Peppers
How is Age-related Macular Degeneration treated?
Treatment of AMD is dependent on the stage and type of the disease.
- Early – While there are no treatments available for the early stage, regular checkups with your eye doctor may help to detect any changes in your macula and retina.
- Intermediate – There are certain supplements and vitamins you can take to stop AMD from going into the late stage. Additonally, you can also begin wearing sunglasses and taking these vitamins and supplements in order to slow down late AMD from taking your vision.
- Wet AMD– In order to stop further vision loss, Anti–vascular endothelial growth factor therapy (Anti-VEGF) is an option and comes in the form of injections. Anti-VEGF injections help to stop the bleeding from leaking blood vessels in the back of your eye.
To find out whether you have AMD and to find the best treatment option for you, please consult with an eye care specialist.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above or simply want to learn more, feel free to contact us at Advanced Eye Physician!