What is AMD (Macular Degeneration)? – Symptoms and Treatment Options

Last Updated on September 23, 2021

Growing old is inevitable. Our bodies go through various changes. Our skin thins out and becomes less elastic, you may bruise more easily, and your skin may get drier. You start getting wrinkles and age spots, and your weight starts to fluctuate, and your vision may get weaker amongst other things.

One of the most common things to occur with our eyesight is the age-related vision problem known as macular degeneration, often referred to as AMD or ARMD. This is when the “macula” which is the smaller part of the retina, starts to deteriorate. The macula provides a highly detailed vision for tasks such as seeing different colors and reading small print. As this is the part that is responsible for focus and peripheral vision, as it gets weaker, it can lead to blindness, especially for those who are above the age of 65. 

Two Types of Macular Degeneration – Wet and Dry

This vision problem comes in two types: non-neovascular (dry) and neovascular (wet)

Wet AMD: Only 15% of people suffer from this type and happens when blood vessels develop where they are not supposed to be. They can leak blood and other fluids into the retina which can scar the macula. 

There is a small treatment window and if caught early can be rectified. Some specialized institutions, such as the one run by Tej Kohli have been set up to try and combat this prevalent issue and by the use of various innovative modern technologies, there is hope that this small percentage of sufferers will be minimized to an even less amount.

Dry AMD: This represents the early stages of macular degeneration and is the most common form of the disease. It represents over 80% of the population. As the macula cells deteriorate with age, the pigment in the epithelial cells deteriorates with age, resulting in small yellow spots called “drusen”. This can lead to damage and vision loss and is a much slower process than wet AMD.

Symptoms of AMD

If caught in its early stages, AMD may not affect your vision to a noticeable extent. However, as the disease progresses, it starts to affect both eyes and the symptoms vary depending on if you have the dry or the wet format. These symptoms can include:

  • Impaired color vision
  • Changes in bright to low light vision
  • Blurred distance and/or reading vision 
  • Sudden deterioration of vision
  • Shadowed central vision (blind spots)
  • Fuzzy/distorted vision
  • Diminished facial recognition
  • Reduced contrast sensitivity

Treatment Options

Preventing this disease is amongst the best forms of treatment. Diet plays an important part, and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as fatty fish like Mackerel or Salmon, high-fat plant foods, and algae can help. Another important thing is to get regular eye checks done by an ophthalmologist. There are no approved AMD treatments for the dry format at present however maintaining a healthy diet and activities like eye exercises to improve central vision, can help. For the wet format, there are several approved drugs.

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