Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of central vision loss in Americans over 50. It is a disease of the macula, the bulls-eye central part of the retina. The macula is small, about the size of this “O”, and is the reason we can read small print, identify details, and see in color. If macula becomes damaged from a condition such as AMD, there are some treatments that can lessen the chance of permanent vision loss. Earlier detection can increase the chances of preserving vision.
AMD usually develops gradually and painlessly, and good vision in one eye can mask vision loss in the other eye. As AMD progresses, signs may become obvious.
Warning Signs for AMD:
- Difficulty reading or doing close work
- Distorted or wavy lines, borders, words, or details
- Blurry or faded faces, print, TV
- Blind spots, dark spots, or missing areas of straight-ahead vision
Know the risk factors…and if you notice any sudden or gradual change in your vision, don’t assume you need new glasses or contact lenses, make sure you have a complete eye exam. See your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Risk Factors for AMD:
- Aging – AMD affects one-third of adults over 75
- Heredity – A family history of AMD increases risk
- Gender – Women are more likely to develop AMD
- Race – Whites are at greater risk of AMD
- Smoking – increases risk by 2-5 times
- Poor diet, poor circulation, obesity, and inactivity
- Prolonged UV exposure
- Less overall body pigment and light-colored eyes
If you’ve been told you have high risk macular degeneration, ask your eye doctor about using a home Amsler Grid to monitor your central retina for distortion from advancing macular degeneration.