Causes of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration affects the macula, the area of your retina responsible for your central vision. When the macula starts to deteriorate, it causes a loss in central vision. The exact causes of this condition are not known, but it is believed that lifestyle and heredity can play a factor. For example, individuals with a family history are more likely to develop AMD than those without a family history of the condition. Eating a diet high in fat and participating in unhealthy behaviors, like smoking may also contribute to the development of AMD.
Risk Factors for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- Advanced Age – AMD is most common in individuals who are over the age of 50.
- Genetics – There are specific genes that are responsible for the development of AMD, and those genes tend to run in families.
- Obesity and Heart Disease – Individuals who are overweight or who have heart disease are at increased risk for developing AMD.
- Race – Individuals who are Caucasian have an increased risk of developing AMD when compared to other races.
- Tobacco Usage – Individuals who smoke or who are exposed to cigarette smoke may be at an increased risk for AMD.
Symptoms of AMD
The primary symptom of AMD is a progressive central vision loss. Individuals with the condition do not typically experience pain or discomfort. Instead, they may first notice that their central vision is a bit blurry, and they may have trouble reading or seeing when driving.
If you are around the age of 50 and notice any change in your vision, it is a good idea to schedule an immediate appointment with our doctors in order to determine if you have signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD Treatment Options
The first step to treating AMD is getting diagnosed early. This means it is vitally important to get yearly eye exams that check for damage to the macula and retina, especially if you are 50 years of age or older.
The dry form of the condition does not have any form of treatment, but we can recommend certain supplements and lifestyle changes that may slow the disease progression. Glasses and contacts can help improve visual acuity so that you can still read and drive.
Wet AMD does have treatment options available. Medications that stop the growth of new blood vessels in the retina can be injected by a retinal surgeon, which can help preserve central vision for longer.