Everything You Need To Know About Age-Related Macular Degeneration

February is National AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month in the United States...

February is National AMD and Low Vision Awareness Month in the United States. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause behind loss of vision in individuals over 50. It’s a disease that blurs the sharp, central vision you need for straight-ahead activities like reading, driving and sewing. A painless ageing disease, it affects a part of the eye called the macula, which is at the centre of the retina. The retina allows you to see in fine detail, thus macular degeneration affects your central vision.

Are You Prone To AMD?

Though the exact cause of AMD is unknown, age is a major risk factor and the disease is most likely to occur after you are 60. If you’re into smoking, double is the risk. Also, people with a family history of AMD are more vulnerable to the disease.

Can You Prevent AMD?

Although a disease linked with age, researchers have discovered lifestyle habits associated with AMD. You might be able to reduce the risk of AMD or slow its progression by avoiding smoking, regular exercise, maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol, and having a healthy diet rich in green leafy vegetables.

How is AMD diagnosed?

The early and intermediate stages of AMD are usually without symptoms. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect AMD, wherein the eye care professional will look for drusen, yellow deposits beneath your retina. With ageing, most people develop some very small drusen. The presence of medium to large drusen may mean you have AMD.

Types of AMD

AMD can occur in two forms:

  • Dry AMD: There is a gradual breakdown of the light-sensitive cells in the macula which convey visual information to the brain and of the supporting tissue beneath the macula. This causes vision loss.
  • Wet AMD: Abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina and can leak fluid and blood, leading to swelling and damage of the macula. The damage may be rapid and severe, unlike more gradual in Dry AMD.

When Should You Consult?

See your eye care professional if you experience any of the given symptoms:

  • Straight lines appear wavy
  • Difficulty seeing at a distance
  • Decreased ability to distinguish colours
  • Inability to see details like faces or words in a book
  • Dark or empty spots blocking your central vision

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