Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Advancements in medical technology and health awareness have significantly lengthened the average lifespans of Americans and others living in developed countries. This longevity is a “double-edged sword” as now people are living longer but they are developing age-related conditions such as AMD.
The macula is the very center of the tissue inside of the eye called the retina. The retina lines the inside of the eye like wallpaper and is the “film in the camera” for eye. The macula is responsible for our central vision and is only 3 mm in diameter. For its size, the macula goes through more blood supply that any other tissue in the body.
Signs and Symptoms of AMD
Initial symptoms of AMD can be quite subtle and often unnoticeable to the patient. Blurring of the central vision is the most common initial symptom followed by waviness and a large blind spot in the center of vision as the disease progresses to a more advanced state.
What Causes AMD?
Age. Anything that prematurely ages the body will prematurely age the macula and can advance the process. Smoking, obesity, poor diet, and general poor health can be contributing factors. As the macula ages, cellular waste build up in the macula and damage the macula. This is known as “dry” type macular degeneration and most patients stay in this state of the disease.
However some patients go on to develop “wet” type macular degeneration in which the damage is significant enough to cause a macular hemorrhage and severe vision loss.
How is AMD Diagnosed?
Early diagnosis of AMD is crucial before symptoms are noticed by the patient. Diagnosis involves an eye examination with dilation of pupils to give your doctor maximal view of the macula. Photos of the macula can be taken to watch the progression of the disease. Also an OCT scan be taken to look for any bleeding or fluid within the macula.
How is AMD Treated?
The best treatment for AMD is prevention. Recent studies have shown that taking a multivitamin with proper mix of antioxidants can be very effective in promoting macular health and preventing AMD. These vitamins are available over-the-counter and Dr. Reinders can suggest the most effective vitamin therapy.
The dry type of AMD requires no treatment but close monitoring and eye vitamins are essential. If your doctor feels that the AMD is progressing towards the wet type, immediate treatment will be needed. In the past, initial treatment was the use of a laser to seal up the leaking blood vessels in the macula. However new advancements in medications to stop the leakage have shown to be very successful. These medications must be injected into the eye every one to three months. Sounds scary at first but the procedure is painless and will avoid permanent vision loss.
What Steps Should I Take If I Think I Have AMD?
We recommend making an appointment to see Dr. Reinders. He has 22 of years of experience treating patients with AMD and other related conditions. The sooner he can check your eyes, the better. All doctors agree that waiting and hoping it will get better is not a prescription for success.