What Is Age-related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration is a disorder that affects the macula, the central region of the retina. It is responsible for sharp, central vision and is crucial for reading, driving, and recognizing faces. Age-related macular degeneration, also known as macular degeneration or AMD, is the leading cause of blindness among older adults in the United States.


Causes of Macular Degeneration

It is unclear what exactly causes macular degeneration. Experts believe it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Age is the primary risk factor for the development of AMD. The condition often gets diagnosed in people over the age of 60. Other risk factors include smoking, a family history, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables.


Types of AMD

AMD has two main types. Dry macular degeneration is the most typical variation of the illness. It is characterized by the gradual loss of cells in your macula, leading to the gradual decline of your central vision. Wet AMD, known as exudative macular degeneration, is more severe. It happens when new blood vessels develop under the macula, leaking fluid and blood and causing rapid vision loss.


Symptoms of Macular Degeneration

The most common symptom of macular degeneration is difficulty seeing fine details, such as small print or the details of a person's face. Other symptoms may include distorted vision, such as straight lines appearing wavy, and a gradual loss of central vision. In some cases, people with macular degeneration may experience color vision changes.


Diagnosis and Treatment

Macular degeneration is diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor. A test called an Amsler grid assesses any distortion in the central vision. Other tests, such as fundus photography, optical coherence tomography (OCT), and fluorescein angiography, may help check the health of the macula and blood vessels.

Treatment for macular degeneration depends on the type and severity of the condition. Dry macular degeneration does not have a specific treatment. However, taking high doses of antioxidants and zinc may slow the progression of the disease.

Wet macular degeneration is treated with vascular endothelial growth factor drugs. They are injected into the eye to stop the growth of new blood vessels. In some cases, laser therapy may seal leaking blood vessels.


Prevention and Management

Preventing or managing macular degeneration helps maintain good vision as we age. While there is no sure way to avert the condition, several steps can lower its risk.

A healthy lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to prevent or manage macular degeneration. Quitting smoking is one of the most crucial steps, as smoking is a primary risk factor for the condition. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of macular degeneration.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) has shown that taking high doses of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc, can slow the progression of the disease in people who are at high risk.

Regular eye exams are crucial for preventing or managing age-related macular degeneration. An eye doctor can detect the early signs of the condition during a comprehensive eye exam. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent severe vision loss. It is also essential to have regular eye exams. An early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent severe vision loss.

There are low-vision aids and devices that can help people with macular degeneration continue doing the things they love. These include special magnifying glasses, telescopes, and electronic devices. They can help with reading, writing, and other activities.

For more about age-related macular degeneration, visit TMS Eyecare in Wichita or Arkansas City, Kansas. Call (316) 669-4760, (316) 686-7212, or (620) 442-2577 to book an appointment today.

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