Macular degeneration (also called AMD or age-related macular degeneration) is an age-related condition that affects the central vision. The part of the retina, called the macula, starts to break down and lose its ability to create clear visual images. The macula is responsible for that part of our sight we use to read, drive and recognize faces. Although the peripheral vision is not affected by AMD, the most important aspect of vision is lost.
AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans ages 65 and older. And because older people represent an increasingly larger percentage of the general population, vision loss associated with macular degeneration is a growing problem. Studies show more than 1.75 million citizens have significant vision loss from AMD, and that number is expected to grow.
Macular degeneration can be classified as the dry or wet form. Dry AMD is an early stage of the disease and results from deposits, called drusen, forming in the macula. Gradual central vision loss may occur with dry AMD. Vision loss from this form of the disease is usually not as severe as that caused by wet AMD. Stud- ies have shown that high levels of antioxidants, zinc, beta carotene, and lutein significantly reduce the risk of advanced dry AMD and its associated vision loss. Wet AMD is the more advanced and damaging stage of the disease. 10% of dry AMD cases progresses to wet macular degeneration. New blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes permanent damage to the cells in the retina, causing blind spots or a total loss of central vision. Treatment for the wet type involves laser and injection of medication into the macula. AMD occurs is more common in whites and females. Evidence strongly suggests that smoking is a risk factor for macular degeneration. Other risk factors include having a family history of AMD, high blood pressure, and obesity. Some researchers believe that over-exposure to sunlight and a high-fat diet may also be contributing factors in developing macular degeneration. If you have AMD, you should be monitoring your vision with an Amsler grid. AMD causes the line on the grid to appear wavy, distorted or broken. If you have vision loss from AMD, low vision devices including microscopes and telescopes may help you achieve better vision. We provide low vision services and we thoroughly check for AMD during your dilated examination. If you are in need of an eye care provider, we invite you to visit EnVision Eye Care. 321 W. Montgomery Crossroads, Savannah, Ga. (near Hunter Golf Course) For appointments, call (912) 927-0707 Visit us at www.envisionsavannah.com Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter and Instagram