February is National Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) month. AMD is the leading cause of vision for adults over the age of 60, and it affects more than 15 million people. Unfortunately, there is no cure.
What is age-related macular degeneration?
The small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, can deteriorate over time. Because the retina is the light-sensing part of the eye, this deterioration can cause severe sight loss in the central, or straight-ahead, part of vision. Some people with AMD lose so much eyesight they can only see peripherally. Most of these individuals stop driving and learn to adapt to limited eyesight.
There are two forms of age-related macular degeneration, the “wet form” and the “dry form.”
In the dry form, yellow deposits called drusen appear. Although a few of these deposits do not cause problems, they begin to dim or distort vision as they grow. Many people with the dry form first notice the problems while reading.
Those with the wet form of AMD have blood vessels growing underneath the macula. The vessels leak fluid, which causes the distortion and loss of vision. The wet form is more severe, causing scarring that leads to permanent vision loss.
Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
AMD is slow to progress, and many people may not notice until it begins to affect both eyes. Symptoms include: blurriness, a blind spot, or wavy lines. Others may notice straight lines, or faces appearing wavy; doors may seem crooked, and some objects may seem smaller or farther away.
AMD Risk Factors
Ophthalmologists still do not know what causes AMD. Age is, of course, one factor, but some Triangle residents have other risk factors, such as:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history
As with many eye health problems, prevention is the best cure. Prevention steps are the same as those for many other health problems and include:
- Stop smoking
- Eating leafy, green vegetables, fish oil, fruit, and nuts
- Regular exercise
- Wear sunglasses outdoors
- Keep blood pressure under control
Early discovery of AMD leads to a better quality of life for most sufferers. Age-related macular degeneration can be detected during a routine eye exam at Park Ophthalmology. There are treatments to help those with AMD, but they do not always work, or must be repeated.
Whether at risk for AMD or another eye condition, residents should make a yearly appointment to visit Beth R. Friedland MD, Park Ophthalmology, in Raleigh and Durham.
Photo: Feelart, freedigitalphotos.net
Park Ophthalmology welcomes patients from all areas of the Triangle and offers a wide variety of specialized services including surgery for diseases of the eye, vision examinations, eye safety information, sports medicine protective eyewear and counseling, contact lenses and evaluation, and all types of ocular diagnosis and treatment. Many types of surgery are available, including cataract and laser surgery. We are here for you and your eye and overall health. Give us a call today!
This article about age-related macular degeneration is brought to you by the professional team atPark Ophthalmology located in the Triangle Region of North Carolina.
The information contained in this blog article is intended solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be offered as medical advice.
5306 NC Highway 55, Suite 102 (adjacent to the RTP/ Research Triangle Park)
Durham, NC 27713
Office: 919 544 5375
Fax: 919 544 5829
Park Ophthalmology North
6512 Six Forks Road, Suite 105
Raleigh, NC 27615
919 846 6915