Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition affecting millions of people worldwide, particularly those over 50. This debilitating condition can lead to vision loss and complete blindness if left untreated. That’s why February has been designated as Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month to raise awareness about this condition and the importance of early detection and treatment.
AMD is a progressive disease that affects the macula, a small spot near the retina’s center responsible for sharp, clear vision. The macula gradually deteriorates with age, causing central vision loss. There are two forms of AMD: the wet form, characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula, and the dry form, caused by the gradual loss of photoreceptor cells.
Several factors increase the risk of developing AMD, including:
Age: The risk of AMD increases as you get older, particularly after age 50.
Genetics: If you have a family history of AMD, you’re more likely to develop the condition yourself.
Smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for AMD and increases the risk of vision loss by two to three times.
Sun exposure: Prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light can damage the macula.
Diet: A diet high in saturated fats, sugar, and processed foods can increase the risk of AMD.
AMD is a slow-progressing condition that can be difficult to detect in the early stages. However, there are several symptoms to look out for, including:
If you suspect you have AMD, you must see an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. Kung Eye Center offers comprehensive eye exams that include tests to detect the presence of AMD. Our eye doctors will examine the retina, including the macula, using special techniques, such as fundus photography and optical coherence tomography (OCT) scans.
There’s currently no cure for AMD, but there are treatments available that can slow the progression of the disease and preserve vision. Wet AMD can be treated with anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) medications, which help slow the growth of abnormal blood vessels. Dry AMD can be managed with a healthy diet and supplements, such as the AREDS2 formula, which contains vitamins and minerals that have been shown to reduce the risk of vision loss from AMD.
There are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing AMD, including:
Quit smoking: If you smoke, quitting is the most important step to protect your eyesight.
Wear sunglasses: Wear eye protection that blocks UVA and UVB rays when you’re outside, especially during the middle of the day.
Eat a healthy diet: Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet and avoid foods high in saturated fats, sugar, and processed foods.
Get regular eye exams: It is important to detect the presence of AMD early when it’s most treatable.
If you are experiencing symptoms of age-related macular degeneration or have a family history, please contact our New York or New Jersey office today for assessment.