Risks, Diagnosis & Treatment
About Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in people over 50 in which the central portion of the retina, called the macula, is damaged as a result of the hardening of the small arteries supplying oxygen and nutrients to the retinal tissue. There are two main types of Age Related Macular Degeneration: Dry Macular Degeneration and Wet Macular Degeneration. Dry Macular Degeneration is the most common type of Age Related Macular Degeneration making up 85-90% of cases, resulting in a slow progressive loss of vision. Typically, we see small, yellow colored deposits between the retinal layers, which are called drusen. Many people 50 years of age or older have some drusen as they age and may be asked to schedule eye exams more frequently in order to monitor them as there is some possibility that Dry Macular Degeneration will progress to Wet Macular Degeneration. We need to detect Wet Macular Degeneration quickly as it has far more serious consequences for vision loss. Wet Macular Degeneration is characterized by an abnormal growth of new blood vessels under the retina, called “neovascularization,” which is prone to be leaky and can easily break and bleed. If leakage occurs, the macula may actually begin to swell, bleed and scar causing severe loss of central vision, which may be irreversible.
Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Top AMD Risks You Should Know
- Being over the Age of 60
- Having a Family History of AMD
- Cigarette Smoking
If you have any two of these risk factors, you should schedule an appointment for a complete eye exam and evaluation. We may recommend certain lifestyle choices and preventative measures to help you manage the risks and hopefully reduce your risk of vision loss.
Diagnosis of Macular Degeneration
Early detection, diagnosis and treatment are the keys to preventing vision loss from Macular Degeneration. It is often possible to detect early signs of Macular Degeneration during your regular eye examination, so scheduling regular eye exams is an excellent way to make an early diagnosis of Macular Degeneration. If you are over the age of 40-45 and you have a family history of Macular Degeneration, we recommend that you have a thorough eye examination, including a dilated retinal evaluation, each year. Please be sure to tell our staff if you have a family history of Macular Degeneration. It is also important to know the symptoms of Macular Degeneration. If at any time you experience “distortion” or “twisting”, “shadowing” or “bending” of objects in your vision, you should schedule an appointment immediately.
Treatment of Macular Degeneration
At Coastal Jersey Eye Center we perform in-office Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) exams and diagnostic testing as well work with your primary care physician and retina specialists to be certain you have access to care you might need including non-surgical retina injection treatment with Lucentis®, Eylea®, Beovu® or other medications if needed to help maintain your vision and prevent vision loss. With regular eye exams, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, vision loss from AMD can be halted in most instances.
Age Related Macular Degeneration & Diet
It is believed that nutrition may play a role in the likelihood of developing Macular Degeneration. Studies indicated that people who have a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables-particularly green leafy vegetables-have a considerably lower incidence of Macular Degeneration. The Age Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), which was sponsored by the National Eye Institute, showed that taking high levels of antioxidants and Zinc could reduce the risk of developing Age Related Macular Degeneration by about 25%. This is not a cure, but we need to consider this information as a possible way to help patients who are at risk for Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), prevent vision loss.
NOTE: A VERY SPECIFIC FORMULATION WAS USED IN THIS STUDY
Before patients begin taking any course of vitamin or antioxidant supplements, you should fully discuss the risks and benefits with your eye doctor, who in consultation with your family physician or Internist, will determine whether this is safe and effective for you to try.