February 9, 2022
Macular Degeneration is a disease causing slow, but progressive loss of the center of your field of vision. Loss of the center of your field of vision is a key component in most major and important tasks of daily living, including driving, reading, focusing on objects, as well as seeing individuals' faces.
The portion responsible for this field of your vision is called the “macula” which is the center portion of your “retina”. The retina is responsible for actually capturing all images you see, and therefore the deterioration of the central macula leads to a loss of the central portion of your vision. Other symptoms include blurry spots, grayness in vision color, fuzziness or distortion, and progressive loss of the central part of your vision.
Types of Macular Degeneration
Macular Degeneration has two subtypes: Dry and Wet. Both involve the blood vessels that travel and supply nutrients to your eye. Dry Macular degeneration is most commonly the early form of the disease. It is known as “Dry” because the blood vessels do not yet leak fluid into the cavity of your eye. Dry Macular Degeneration may cause some mild vision loss, may affect a single or both eyes, and may not even be noticed by an individual, as the changes are slow and gradual.
The more advanced form of the disease is known as Wet Macular Degeneration. It is known as “Wet” because the vessels that carry blood begin to leak and cause an unnecessary increase in the fluid of the eye. This can cause much quicker, and irreversible vision loss.
80-85% of cases are Dry Macular Degeneration while the remainder about 15% are Wet Macular Degeneration. Certain individuals with Dry Macular Degeneration may then develop Wet Macular Degeneration.
What causes Age-Related Macular Degeneration or “AMD”?
Currently, there are no individual causes that are the definitive cause of AMD. However, there are some associations that have been found.
- Age - currently the most definitive link to AMD, with individuals over the age of 55 at the highest risk
- Genetics - individuals with a family history of AMD are most likely to suffer from AMD
- Race - currently Caucasians or White are at a higher risk than those of Asian, Hispanic, or African descent
- Smoking - some studies have shown that smoking may double the risk of developing AMD
What can I do to protect myself from AMD?
- Quit smoking or avoid smoking - this may significantly decrease the risk of developing macular degeneration
- Get regular vision checks from your healthcare provider - early detection can be key in managing this disease, so if you or someone else notices changes in your vision, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible
- Exercise and Stay Active - although this may not directly reduce your risk of AMD, an active lifestyle can reduce many other conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes which can negatively affect your eyes.
- Once a diagnosis of dry AMD is made, we recommend genetic testing. It helps us determine how likely it is that there will be progression to a more advanced form of the disease. This is important because we have great treatment for the wet form. The genetic testing also tells us if AREDS 2 vitamins (such as Ocuvite or Preservision) can slow down the progression of the dry form, and if so, do you need the vitamins with or without zinc.