February is Age-related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month. AMD is a serious eye disease that affects your central vision, making it difficult to recognize facial features, read books, and perform close-up work. It’s important to be aware of the signs of AMD so that you can better protect your vision. In this blog, we explore the different types of AMD, risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options.
Types of AMD
There are two different types of AMD: wet and dry. Wet AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow under the macula—the part of the eye responsible for sharp central vision—and leak blood or fluid into the area. This type progresses more quickly than dry AMD and can cause rapid visual decline if left untreated. In contrast, dry AMD is caused by thinning or deterioration of the macula due to aging. This type tends to progress much slower than wet AMD but can still lead to decreased vision over time.
Risk factors for developing AMD
The primary risk factor for developing AMD is age; anyone 50 or older is at higher risk for developing this condition than younger individuals. Other risk factors include smoking, a family history of AMD, high cholesterol levels, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and extensive exposure to UV light from sunlight without proper sun protection.
Signs of AMD
The most common symptom associated with both forms of AMD is blurry vision in one or both eyes. Individuals may also experience visual distortions, such as objects appearing smaller or larger than they are or straight lines appearing wavy. Keep an eye out for these signs so that you can seek professional treatment right away and delay the disease’s progression.
Treatment options for AMD
There are currently no treatments for dry AMD, but lifestyle changes, such as taking supplements, can help to preserve your remaining vision and slow down the disease. For patients with wet AMD, there are several treatment options available:
- Laser surgery to seal leaking retinal blood vessels
- Photodynamic therapy which uses photosensitive drugs and a laser
- Anti-VEGF eye injections to stop or slow down the growth of abnormal blood vessels
Additionally, lifestyle changes can help to prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration. Eating healthier, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, wearing sunglasses when outdoors, and scheduling regular eye exams are all ways to help reduce your risk or better manage your symptoms if you have AMD.
Be sure to talk with your optometrist if you fall into any of the high-risk groups above or notice any changes in your vision. At Pathway Eye, if you are diagnosed with AMD, we will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs. Give us a call today to schedule your comprehensive eye exam!