According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness among older Americans (age 50+). The condition impacts the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision, which is necessary for activities like reading and driving. AMD progresses gradually, and in severe cases, can result in legal blindness.
The condition is categorized into two types: dry (atrophic) and wet (neovascular). Dry AMD is more common (approximately 80-90% of cases). It is characterized by the thinning of the macula and the accumulation of yellow deposits under the retina. While its progression is slower than wet AMD, over time it can lead to significant vision loss.
Wet AMD is less common, but more severe. It involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina, which can leak fluid and blood, causing rapid damage and vision loss.
The cause of AMD is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Age is the primary risk factor, but others include smoking, obesity, hypertension, family history, and excessive sun exposure.
Symptoms of AMD include blurred vision, dark or empty areas in the center of vision, and the distortion of straight lines. Regular eye exams are recommended, as early detection is critical, especially for those at higher risk.
Certain treatments and lifestyle changes can slow the progression of AMD and help manage its symptoms. For dry AMD, supplements containing a specific combination of vitamins and minerals known as the AREDS2 formula can help reduce the risk of progression. For wet AMD, treatments include anti-VEGF injections to slow the growth of abnormal blood vessels and, in rare occasions, laser therapy.
Preventive measures include maintaining a healthy diet rich in leafy greens and fish, avoiding/stopping smoking, exercising regularly, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and protecting eyes from ultraviolet light.
For more information, or to schedule an eye exam with Dr. Desai at Windy City Retina, please contact:
Windy City Retina – Ankit Desai
15905 S Frederick St
Plainfield, IL 60586