The leading cause of vison loss in people 50 years or older is age related macular degeneration (AMD). It is very common but many people don’t realize they have AMD until their vision is very blurry. This is why it is important to have regular visits to an ophthalmologist. Early signs of AMD can be caught by your doctor before you have vision problems.
AMD happens when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. With AMD you cannot see fine details up close or far you and you lose your central vision. Your peripheral (side) vision will still be normal but you may have dark areas in your central vison.
Dry AMD and Wet AMD
Dry AMD is more common than wet AMD. Dry AMD happens when parts of the macula get thinner and very small clumps of protein grow. Central vision is slowly lost.
Wet AMD is less common but much more serious. Wet AMD happens when abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina causing scarring of the macula. Vision is lost faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD.
Are you at risk for getting AMD? You are more likely to develop AMD if you:
Have a family history of AMD
Have heart disease
Have high cholesterol levels
eat a diet high in saturated fat (found is foods like cheese, butter, and meat)
Your ophthalmologist may ask you to look at an Amsler grid which will help you notice any blurry or blank spots in your vision. During your exam, your eyes may be dilated so your doctor can look at the inside of your eye through a special lens.
To look closely at the retina, you may have special testing with an Optical coherence tomography (OCT). A machine provides detailed images of the retina and macula.
Patients with dry AMD might benefit from taking a certain combination of nutritional supplements. Your ophthalmologist can tell you if these vitamins and minerals are recommended for your dry AMD:
Lutein (10 mg)
Zeaxanthin (2 mg)
Vitamin C (500 mg)
Vitamin E (400 IU)
Zinc (80 mg)
Copper (2 mg)
Patients with Wet AMD can be treated with medications called inti-VEGF drugs. They help slow leaking blood vessels and reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels in your retina. A very slender needle is used to deliver the medicine. Some types of we AMD are treated with laser surgery.