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Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Learn More

Your vision is one of your most important senses. As you get older, your eyes will experience many changes that you don’t even notice until it’s in advanced stages. It is important to receive a thorough exam at least once a year with an experienced ophthalmologist at Associates in Ophthalmology.
One service AIO provides is the diagnosis and treatment of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. You might be wondering, what is AMD (age-related macular degeneration), how does it affect me, and am I at risk of vision loss?

What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. The retina’s central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors, and see objects in fine detail.

There are two basic types of Macular Degeneration: “dry” and “wet.” Approximately 85% to 90% of the cases of Macular Degeneration are the “dry” (atrophic) type, while 10-15% are the “wet” (exudative) type.

Three stages of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)Early AMD
Most people do not experience vision loss in the early stage of AMD, which is why regular eye exams are important, particularly if you have more than one risk factor (see below). Early AMD is diagnosed by the presence of medium-sized drusen (yellow deposits beneath the retina).

  • Intermediate AMD – At this stage, there may be some vision loss, but there still may not be
    noticeable symptoms. A comprehensive eye exam with specific tests will look for larger drusen and/or pigment changes in the retina.
  • Late AMD – At this stage, vision loss has become noticeable.
    Macular degeneration causes loss in the center of the field of vision. In dry macular degeneration, the center of the retina deteriorates. With wet macular degeneration, leaky blood vessels grow under the retina.

You are more likely to develop AMD if you:

  • eat a diet high in saturated fat (meat, butter, and cheese)
  • are overweight
  • smoke cigarettes
  • are over 50 years old
  • have hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • have a family history of AMD

Having heart disease is another risk factor for AMD, as is having high cholesterol levels. Caucasians also have an elevated risk of getting AMD.

Diagnosing AMD
The first signs of Age-related Macular Degeneration are typically discovered by an eye doctor in an annual dilated eye exam. They include the presence of drusen – tiny but visible heaps of cell waste on the surface of the retina – and pigment changes in the macula. Often these signs of AMD are present long before any changes are noticeable in a person’s vision. Nearly everyone over age 50 has at least one small drusen. Standard screening tests include the visual acuity exam (the letter chart with an E at the top) and an Amsler grid, which looks like graph paper.

Treatments
Current treatments, especially for age-related macular degeneration, are slowing the progression of AMD and improving vision. Although there is not yet a cure for age-related macular degeneration or Stargardt disease, research at leading institutions worldwide progresses steadily. Scientists have begun to understand underlying genetics, cell metabolism, and environmental factors that cause macular degeneration.

Research at AIO
AIO is currently conducting research studies for Age-Related Macular Degeneration treatments. The Research Team was just recognized for their excellence in recruitment by the PANDA AMD study they are conducting. To learn more about participating in a study at AIO or would like to schedule an exam, please visit AIOvision.com or call 888.634.9800.

To learn more about macular degeneration, give us a call to schedule your consultation. LASER CATARACT SURGERY | DRY EYE CLINIC | RETINA | GLAUCOMA | MACULAR DEGENERATION | LASIK | DIABETIC EYE CARE
Visit our new website - AIOvision.com     888.634.9800

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