Macular Degeneration Symptoms

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail. AMD does not cause pain and in some cases, the disease advances so slowly that people notice little change in their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes.

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Risk Factors for Age-related macular degeneration:

High blood pressure

Smoking

Obesity

Family History

Dry AMD is the more common form of AMD. It occurs in about 90 percent of people who have the condition. One of the most common early signs of dry AMD is drusen, which are yellow deposits under the retina. They often are found in people over age 60.

Dry AMD has three stages, and these symptoms may occur in one or both eyes:

  1. Early AMD. People with early AMD have either several small drusen or a few medium-sized drusen. There are no symptoms and no vision loss at this stage.
  2. Intermediate AMD. People with intermediate AMD have either many medium-sized drusen or one or more large drusen. You may see a blurred spot in the center of your vision. Often, more light may be needed for reading and other tasks.
  3. Advanced Dry AMD. People with advanced Dry AMD have a breakdown of light-sensitive cells and supporting tissue in the central retinal area in addition to drusen. This breakdown can cause a blurred spot in the center of your vision. The blurred spot may get bigger and darker over time, taking more of your central vision. You may have difficulty reading or recognizing faces until they are very close to you.

Once dry AMD reaches the advanced stage, no form of treatment will prevent loss of vision. However, treatment can delay and possibly prevent intermediate AMD from progressing to the advanced stage.

Wet AMD (also considered advanced AMD) occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These new blood vessels tend to be very fragile and often leak blood and fluid. With wet AMD, loss of central vision can occur quickly. It does not have stages like dry AMD. In early stages of wet AMD, straight lines may appear wavy. You may also develop a blind spot that causes the loss of central vision.

Treatment:

Dr. Hoffman may recommend tests such as retinal photography, fluorescein angiography, and ultrasonic retinal scans to determine the health of the retina. He may prescribe special vitamins or a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, and low fat and cholesterol foods. Also, always wear sunglasses with UV protection, don’t smoke and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.

Wet AMD can be treated with laser surgery, photodynamic therapy, and injections into the eye. None of these treatments are a cure for Wet AMD. If you have lost some sight from AMD, we can recommend low vision services and devices that may help you make the most of your remaining vision.