Possible Symptoms for Macular Degeneration (AMD)
1. Decreased vision
Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), often occurs after the age of 60. The most noticeable symptom is a decrease in vision quality and resolution. Vision becomes blurrier and it’s often harder to see or focus on smaller objects, like fine print. People notice this issue the most when driving or trying to read.
2. Darkness in vision
Macular degeneration also creates a vision impairment symptom particular to this disorder that causes a dark and/or blurry area in the middle of one’s vision. It will usually start out small and become bigger as it worsens. This dark, blurry spot is a sign that the disorder has already become severe and that late-stage macular degeneration has already set in.
3. Vision disturbances
Macular degeneration can also cause other vision disturbances that can be recognized earlier than the dark spot in one’s vision. For example, seeing straight lines that look blurry or crooked is an early warning symptom before the more severe symptoms set in. Also, if you consistently need brighter and brighter light to do closer work, notice a decrease in the intensity of color brightness, have trouble adjusting to dimly lit rooms for longer than usual, and/or have trouble recognizing faces, these can all be strong signs of macular degeneration.
Top 5 Causes of Macular Degeneration (AMD)
1. Dry macular degeneration
Dry macular generation is caused by yellow deposits in the macula. These deposits are called drusen. They will often start out small and in minimal numbers, but over time they will become larger and multiply, leading to the vision dimming symptom. In most cases, dry macular generation occurs as a result of old age, and though it doesn’t usually cause total vision loss, late-stage macular degeneration can lead to the loss of central vision.
2. Wet macular degeneration
Most people who have macular degeneration experience the dry form of the disorder, but 10 percent experience the wet form. This is caused by the growth of blood vessels from the choroid, which is under the macula. These blood vessels are abnormal and cause blood and fluid to seep out into the retina. Permanent vision loss is most common when wet macular degeneration occurs.
Macular degeneration of any type usually occurs with age, but the genetic risk increases your likelihood of developing this disorder. Unfortunately, there aren’t any genetic tests that can diagnose the disorder.
4. Risk factors
Those who are over 60, have light-colored eyes, are female, and have lighter skin are more at risk of developing macular degeneration. Certain risk factors you can control may also make you more likely to experience macular degeneration. For example, if you smoke, are overweight, or have high blood pressure and cholesterol, you are more likely to develop the condition.
2 Ways to Prevent Macular Degeneration (AMD)
1. Taking vitamins
Some of the risk factors listed above are preventable, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. However, you can also help prevent macular degeneration by taking certain vitamins, which is especially helpful if you are over 60 and have a family history of the disorder.
Omega-3 fatty acids (also known as fish oil), lutein, and zeaxanthin may all be helpful in preventing macular degeneration. Vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, copper, and beta-carotene have also shown impressive results.
2. Visit the eye doctor
It’s hard to prevent macular degeneration because the symptoms are often unnoticeable until they become severe. As such, you’ll want to visit the eye doctor regularly in order to make sure that your eyes are healthy and that you don’t have any of the signs of macular degeneration that is only detectable by an eye doctor.
Possible Macular Degeneration (AMD) Treatment Options
In most cases, there is no treatment that can reverse macular degeneration or vision loss. However, certain drugs can help treat wet macular degeneration by blocking the development of blood vessels or the leakage from already developed blood vessels. This treatment has actually benefited many patients who have seen improvements in their vision loss.
2. Low vision aids
Certain vision aids like electronic devices or glasses with special lenses can actually help enlarge objects or words and make it easier to see beyond the damage macular degeneration has caused. This can help people still use their visual abilities in an easier and better way.
3. Laser therapy
Laser therapy can be a possible treatment to minimize the issue of wet macular degeneration by destroying the blood vessels that are growing in the eye. Photodynamic laser therapy is another option that can be used to stop the increase of abnormal blood vessels. However, both of these treatments are relatively new and cannot give the patient back the eyesight that has been lost as a result of the disorder.
4. Lifestyle changes
The same techniques that can help you prevent macular degeneration can be used in tandem with the treatments listed above to help stop its spread. Quitting smoking, eating healthier, and exercising more are all great ways to minimize the issues associated with this condition.
5. Experimental treatments
There are some treatments, like submacular surgery and retinal translocation, that are being researched every day and show promise, although these still haven’t moved past the experimental stage.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask about Macular Degeneration (AMD)
- How long have you been experiencing the symptoms of macular degeneration?
- What is your current range of vision?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you have a history of macular degeneration in your family?
- Are you over the age of 60?
- Would you be willing to take a few vision tests in order to determine the severity of your symptoms?
Macular Degeneration (AMD) May Also be Known as:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Deterioration of the macula
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- WebMD. Age-Related Macular Degeneration Overview. https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/macular-degeneration/age-related-macular-degeneration-overview - 1.
- American Macular Degeneration Foundation. What Is Macular Degeneration? https://www.macular.org/what-macular-degeneration.
- National Library of Medicine. Macular Degeneration. https://medlineplus.gov/maculardegeneration.html.
- Mayo Clinic. Dry Macular Degeneration. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-macular-degeneration/symptoms-causes/syc-20350375.
- National Eye Institute. Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration. https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts.