AMD (Age Related Macular Degeneration) is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults over 50. It gradually destroys the macula, the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision. In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss does not occur for a long time. In others, the disorder progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. The vision loss makes it difficult to recognize faces, drive a car, read, print, or do close work, such as sewing or fixing things around the house. Despite the limited vision, AMD does not cause complete blindness. You will be able to see using your peripheral vision.
There are two forms of AMD: dry and wet. Either form can advance and cause severe vision loss.
The dry form is more common. People with the dry form may in time proceed to develop the wet form.
Drusen are another early sign of dry AMD. They are yellow deposits under the retina.
The wet form is considered advanced AMD and can be more severe. It happens when new blood vessels under the macula leak blood and fluid.
Risk Factors for AMD
- Smoking increases your chances two-fold
- Caucasians more likely than those of African descent
- Family history
The following choices may have a positive impact on Macular Degeneration:
- Healthy Diet of green, leafy vegetables and fish
- Smoking cessation
- Normal Blood Pressure and Cholesterol level
It is important that you check an Amsler Grid on a routine basis and report any changes to your doctor.
The AREDS Study:
Research found that patients taking high doses of antioxidants and zinc could reduce their risk of developing advanced AMD and experiencing severe vision loss. The findings were based on a 10-year clinical trial called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). These vitamins are not a cure, they will not reverse vision already lost, but may prevent or delay the onset of advanced AMD. Your doctor will most likely suggest you take AREDS vitamins on a daily basis if you have never smoked. In addition it is recommended that patients with AMD who have a history of smoking take a daily multivitamin, which is low in Beta carotene and Vitamin A.