Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD):
What You Need To Know

With more and more Americans entering retirement each year it is a prime time to talk about a common eye condition called AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration) or more commonly known as "Macular Degeneration". This condition is a leading cause of vision loss among people age 60 and older. Let's discuss a general overview of AMD to better prepare you in understanding this condition.

AMD affects the back of the eye, known as the retina. If you think of the eye as a camera, the retina in the eye is like the film in that camera. The lens in the human eye, just as in a camera, focuses objects onto the retina or film which allows an image to be seen. Very simply, this is the basis for our human vision. The macula is the central area of the retina needed for us to see sharp details in our central vision, such as faces, written material and gives the ability to drive. Think of the macula as the "20/20" part of our eyes.

So what exactly happens with AMD? Scientists are not exactly sure, but cells within the macula mysteriously malfunction over time and may even cease to work. AMD can be "dry" or "wet". The majority of AMD cases are dry which is the less severe form. In these cases, most patients present without any visual symptoms as the disease can advance so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a very long time... Your Eye Doctor will help guide you in the monitoring of AMD, usually with yearly examinations that include dilation. In the more severe wet form of AMD, there has been fluid leakage into the macula and the progression is more rapid and may lead to loss of vision in one or both eyes. The wet form usually requires a laser procedure to seal the leakage to prevent further vision loss.

Keep in mind, AMD by itself does not lead to complete blindness, as it is the central area of vision portion of the retina that is affected. Patients are usually unaware they have AMD until diagnosed during their routine eye health examination.

Part of understanding this disease is knowing who is at risk for AMD. The highest incidence of AMD occurs after age 60; however it can occur earlier in life. Family history of AMD poses a higher risk as does race and lifestyle. AMD has a higher incidence in Caucasians. Poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise are also risk factors. Studies have shown that regular exercise, not smoking and a healthy diet, especially one based in nutritious foods such as green leafy vegetables and fish have been known to help prevent AMD.

Have you had your annual eye health examination? The yearly visit with your Eye Doctor is the number one preventative measure in the diagnosis and advancement of AMD and other eye conditions. Please see your Eye Doctor today.

Nothing on this web site is intended, nor should it be construed, as professional advice. Those reviewing the information should consult with a qualified professional.