Age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD or ARMD, is an eye disease that causes vision loss, especially for people over the age of 60. This disease is among the many medical conditions that treat at Eye Care Specialists of Oklahoma. Here is what you need to know about macular degeneration, how it is detected, and how it is managed.
What Causes AMD?
The macula lutea is an oval-shaped structure located at the center of the eye’s retina. This area is responsible for processing light and sending signals to the brain, creating a sharp and clear vision for the eye. Macular degeneration occurs when the macula becomes damaged, usually due to age-related deterioration.
There are risk factors that are associated with this eye disease such as tobacco smoking, computer eye strain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and UV light exposure. Genetics also play a factor, as those with a family history of macular degeneration are more likely to develop the disease.
Symptoms of AMD
Signs and symptoms of age-related macular degeneration will often depend on the severity of the condition. The telltale sign of macular degeneration is a distorted vision, with AMD patients reporting missing areas of vision and straight waves appearing wavy. In addition to this, blurred vision and a lack of contrast sensitivity are common signs. While macular degeneration does not usually lead to blindness, the visual impairment that occurs can be exceedingly difficult to live with.
How to Treat AMD
Treatment for macular degeneration must begin with a diagnosis by an ophthalmologist. This doctor will want to know whether the patient has wet or dry AMD, as well as the stage of severity for the condition: early AMD, intermediate AMD, or late AMD. Knowing these details will better help the health professional create a treatment plan that is suitable for the patient.
Once a diagnosis is reached, the doctor will present the patient with management options that will slow down the progression of the degeneration. Management for this disease may involve antioxidant supplementation, mineral supplementation, and guidance for lifestyle changes that need to be made. Some patients can use eyeglasses, contact lenses, or special computer screen readers to better adjust to this condition.