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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of vision loss among older people. It is estimated that about 11 million Americans have age-related macular degeneration. With some many people with macular degeneration, we thought now would be a good time to discuss what this eye disease is and how it is treated.
The macula is an oval shaped area located at the center of the eye's retina. The macula is responsible for delivering the high-acuity vision. Research indicates that macular degeneration may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Those with a family history of macular degeneration are more likely to develop the eye disease. Smoking tobacco can also double a person's risk of developing AMD.
A patient with macular degeneration can expect the following symptoms: distorted vision, light sensitivity, blurriness, faded colors, and difficulty recognizing faces. Those who regularly experience these symptoms should seek eye care from an optometrist.
There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is by far the most common type. In the dry type, drusen forms underneath the macula, leading to deterioration. Wet AMD affects only about 10 to 15 percent of patients. In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina, leading to a severe loss of vision.
Macular degeneration is also divided into three stages: early AMD, intermediate AMD, and late AMD. In early AMD, patients may not even notice any signs or symptoms.
A diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration can be determined by a number of ways, most notably through a visual acuity test, a dilated eye examination, an angiogram, or through tomography. During an exam, the eye doctor will search for the presence of drusen, a yellow or white deposit that interferes with the eye's ability to function properly.
Once a diagnosis is made, the doctor will decide on what kind of treatment is appropriate for the patient. Photocoagulation is a popular form of treatment for this disease. It can also be treated with photodynamic therapy or nutritional therapy. A diet high in vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and lutein can aid in avoiding a disease like macular degeneration.
If you live in the Chapel Hill, NC area, our center may be able to provide eye care for you. Chapel Hill Ophthalmology Clinic is a center that delivers treatment for age-related macular degeneration, among other conditions. To hear more about our treatment program for AMD, please contact the center at 919-942-8701. We'll be happy to schedule an appointment for you.