Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

There are two main types of AMD: dry AMD and wet AMD. Dry AMD is the most common type, accounting for around 90% of cases. It is characterized by the gradual breakdown of light-sensitive cells in the macula, leading to a gradual loss of central vision. Wet AMD, on the other hand, is less common but more severe. It occurs when abnormal blood vessels start to grow beneath the macula, leaking fluid and causing rapid central vision loss.


What are the Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration?


The symptoms of AMD can vary depending on the type and stage of the disease. In the early stages, people with AMD may not experience any noticeable symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, the following symptoms may occur:


  • Blurred or distorted central vision: Straight lines may appear wavy or distorted, and objects may lose their sharpness and clarity.
  • Dark or empty areas in central vision: A blind spot may develop in the center of the visual field, making it difficult to read, drive, or recognize faces.
  • Changes in color perception: Colors may appear less vibrant or faded.
  • Difficulty adapting to low light conditions: It may become challenging to see clearly in dimly lit environments.


If you experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to schedule an appointment with an eye care professional for a comprehensive eye exam.


What are the Causes and Risk Factors of AMD?


The exact cause of AMD is unknown, but several factors can increase the risk of developing the condition. The primary risk factor is age, as AMD most commonly affects people over the age of 50. Other risk factors include:


  • Family history: Having a close relative with AMD increases the likelihood of developing the condition.
  • Smoking: Smoking tobacco significantly increases the risk of AMD and can accelerate its progression.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese is associated with a higher risk of AMD.
  • High blood pressure: Uncontrolled hypertension can contribute to the development and progression of AMD.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Conditions such as heart disease and stroke are linked to an increased risk of AMD.
  • Excessive sunlight exposure: Prolonged exposure to UV rays without proper eye protection may increase the risk of AMD.


While some risk factors are beyond our control, adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking preventive measures can help reduce the risk of developing AMD.


Why is it Important to get Regular Eye Exams?


Regular eye exams play a crucial role in detecting AMD in its early stages when treatment options are most effective. During an eye exam, an eye care professional will perform various tests to assess the health of your eyes and detect any signs of AMD. These tests may include:


  • Visual acuity test: This test measures how well you can see at different distances.
  • Dilated eye exam: The eye care professional will use eye drops to dilate your pupils and examine the back of your eye, including the macula.
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT): This non-invasive imaging test provides detailed cross-sectional images of the retina, helping to identify any abnormalities.


Early detection of AMD allows for prompt intervention and management, which can help preserve vision and prevent further deterioration. It is recommended to have comprehensive eye exams at least once every two years, or more frequently if you have any risk factors or symptoms associated with AMD.


What are the Treatment Options for Age-Related Macular Degeneration?


While there is currently no cure for AMD, several treatment options are available to manage the condition and slow its progression. The specific treatment approach depends on the type and severity of AMD.


For dry AMD, treatment mainly focuses on lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements. A diet rich in antioxidants and nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, and lutein, can help support retinal health. Your eye care professional may also recommend specific supplements designed for AMD.


Wet AMD, on the other hand, often requires more aggressive treatment. The most common form of treatment for wet AMD is anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) therapy. This treatment involves injecting medications into the eye to inhibit the growth of abnormal blood vessels and reduce leakage. Other treatment options for wet AMD include laser therapy and photodynamic therapy.


It is essential to discuss the available treatment options with your eye doctor to determine the most suitable approach for your individual case.


Take Steps to Preserve Your Vision Today


Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. By understanding the different types of AMD, recognizing the symptoms, and taking preventive measures, we can minimize the risk of developing this condition. Preserving your vision is a lifelong commitment, so take care of your eyes and prioritize regular eye care.


Schedule your comprehensive eye exam today to protect your vision and detect AMD early by visiting iDoctor at our office in Glendale Heights, Illinois. Call (630) 454-6899 to book your appointment today.