What Is

What is Age Related Macular Degeneration?

April 25, 2022 | Author: | Posted in Eye

Macular Degeneration is an eye disease which blurs the sharp, central vision needed for activities like reading and driving and it does so by affecting the Macula in the eye. Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), as the name implies causes the Macula to deteriorate due to age and is a very common disease in people above 50 years old. While AMD does not cause complete loss of vision, it causes loss of central vision which makes it harder to see faces, drive, or do close-up everyday work like cooking or fixing things around the house. AMD progresses at different rates in different cases and even if you have early AMD, you may not experience notable loss in vision for a very long time while others might have AMD progress very fast which can lead to loss of central vision in one or both eyes.

Studies have shown that people with certain traits are more likely to contract AMD and some of these traits include:

  1. Age above 60
  2. Heavy smoker
  3. Caucasian
  4. Family have a history of having AMD

If you have any of these traits you should get regular eye exams as early AMD doesn’t have any symptoms and by the time symptoms show up it will already be too late.

As stated above, early stages of AMD do not have any noticeable symptoms. However, as it progresses you might begin to perceive noticeable changes in the quality of your vision. These may include:

  • A blurry area which may get larger
  • Blank spots start to show up
  • Lowered brightness
  • Straight lines becoming wavy
  • Worse or different colour perception

If any of these symptoms start to appear one must contact their eye doctor right away for an examination as these are warnings of the onset of late AMD.

Currently, there are no known treatments for macular degeneration in Singapore and as such, prevention is better than cure. Some of the proven ways to lower the risk of contracting AMD are:

  • Quit smoking or even better don’t even start smoking 
  • Get regular physical activity 
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels 
  • Eat healthy foods, including leafy green vegetables and fish

There are actually 2 types of late AMD, Dry AMD and Wet AMD. In dry AMD, the affected person may have yellow drusen deposits in their Macula. While a few small drusen may not cause significant deterioration or changes in your vision, if they get bigger or rise in number, they can dim or distort your vision especially for activities like reading. As the condition worsens, the light-sensitive cells in your macula get thinner and eventually die. Which may lead to blind spots in the central vision or even worse, complete loss of central vision.

In wet AMD, blood vessels begin to grow underneath your macula and these blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina which distorts your vision so much that straight lines look wavy. You may also start to have blind spots and loss of central vision. Eventually, these blood vessels and their bleeding form a scar which leads to permanent loss of central vision.

While most people who develop AMD contract the dry form of it, about 10% of them contract the wet form and the dry form may also lead to the wet on rare occasions. For cases of wet AMD there are treatments that may be able to stop further vision loss such as medicines called anti-VEGF drugs that the doctor injects in your eye as well as a form of laser treatment, called photodynamic therapy (PDT). For Dry cases, special dietary supplements (vitamins and minerals) may be given to stop the progression of AMD and prevent it from getting worse.

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