February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Month

What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss in people over 50. AMD damages the macula, which is a small spot near the center of the retina—and is responsible for sharp central vision, allowing us to see objects that are straight ahead clearly.

In less advanced cases, AMD symptoms are mild and may not impact activities, while more advanced cases result in severe loss of sight in the central part of vision. AMD eventually creates “blind spots,” which are not correctable with surgery or glasses.

AMD will not cause complete blindness. However, the loss of central vision can interfere with many normal activities such as driving, reading, writing and doing any work that utilized close up vision. Peripheral vision is not affected by AMD, but is too low resolution to make up for lost central vision.

Who is at risk for AMD?

Age is the biggest risk factor for AMD, as it typically affects those 50 years of age and older.

Other risk factors:

  1. Smoking: Can double the risk of AMD
  2. Race: AMD is more prevalent among Caucasians
  3. Family history: If there is AMD in your family, you are at greater risk

How is AMD detected?

Early and intermediate AMD typically present little to no symptoms, so a complete dilated eye examination is critical in early detection.

Annual eye examinations with your optometrist or ophthalmologist are important, particularly if you fall into a high risk category. Early detection of age-related macular degeneration is vital, as it improves the prognosis and allows for possible treatments that can delay or reduce the severity of the disease.

Patients who already suffer from AMD do have treatment options available to them. Valley Eye offers several different types of injectable medications that can slow the progression of AMD. In end-stage cases, a surgical option called Centrasight might be appropriate. Centrasight is an Implantable Telescope that can help improve central vision in one eye.

For more information about these treatments, please call or visit our website.