Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)- Types, Risk Factors, Prevention Strategies

The retina is essential for the overall function of your eye. When the retina is damaged, neurons die off, blood vessels leak and the brain and the optic nerve do not communicate so visual information is either distorted or completely gone. Age-related macular degeneration is a retinal eye disease that causes vision loss in the central field of vision. While treatment can help, it is an incurable condition, which is why early intervention is crucial. Early detection is only achieved through painless diagnostic tests performed by your eye doctor at Retina Consultants of Nevada during your regular eye examination that includes retinal imaging. 

Types of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are wet and dry. Wet (exudative) AMD causes blood vessels to leak and grow under the retina. With dry (atrophic) AMD, the center of the retina called the macula deteriorates. Macular degeneration is an inherited eye disease but can develop in anyone. Direct causes are unknown but those with family history, those who are overweight, smokers, those with hypertension, consuming a diet high in saturated fats and those over the age of 50 are at higher risk for development. Symptoms are unnoticeable until the disease progresses but includes blurred vision, difficulty seeing in low light conditions, difficulty in distinguishing colors, straight lines that appear wavy and blank spots or dark spots in the field of vision. Eye exams that include the following tests can diagnose age-related macular degeneration: Amsler grid, fluorescein angiography, dilated eye exam, optical coherence tomography and optical coherence tomography angiography. 

Prevention strategies are focused on a combination of vitamins and minerals that have been shown to slow the progression of the onset of the disease. AREDS, Age-Related Eye Disease Studies, suggests a diet of vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, zinc, copper and zeaxanthin. Following a Mediterranean diet, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and keeping optimal blood pressure and cholesterol levels will also lower risk of macular degeneration. 

If diagnosed with AMD, medications called anti-VEGF injections that block the protein that produces new blood vessels may be prescribed. Laser therapies may also help in preserving vision for the wet version of AMD. 
Yearly retinal tests will help your doctor keep track of the health of your retina to maintain quality vision. Call Retina Consultants of Nevada at 702-369-0200 or schedule online at WEBSITE for your next appointment.