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Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

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What is AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration)?

AMD is a disease of the eye that leads to the gradual loss of sight as you age. It occurs as a result of the small central portion of the retina, known as the macula, beginning to deteriorate. The macula is responsible for detailed central vision, providing us the ability to read, drive safely, or recognize the faces of our loved ones.

Who Can Develop AMD?

It is the leading cause of vision loss among Canadians, both male and female aged 60 years and older.

Risk Factors for Developing AMD

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Family history of AMD
  • Smoking
  • Ethnicity – Caucasians have the highest risk for developing AMD
  • High blood pressure
  • Extensive exposure to bright sunlight

What Are The Types of AMD?

AMD is divided into 2 different types, of which you can potentially have one or both types. The majority of AMD cases are atrophic (90%) and the remaining 10% are exudative.

Dry (Atrophic) AMD

This form of AMD is characterized by drusen, yellow deposits in the macula. As the drusen develop in size and quantity, your vision will increasingly become distorted and noticeably dim.  

If dry AMD reaches the advanced stage, the light-sensitive layers of your eye begin to thin and eventually die. This will lead to the complete loss of central vision.

Wet (Exudative) AMD

Exudative AMD is characterized by the development of abnormal or weakened blood vessels underneath the macula. When blood and other fluids leak from these irregular blood vessels, your vision will become distorted and you will likely have blind spots.

During the advanced stages, the abnormal vessels form scar tissue, resulting in severe  loss of central vision.

What Are The Symptoms of AMD?

The symptoms of AMD vary as they depend on the stage that the macular degeneration has reached.

Early Stage AMD Symptoms

AMD symptoms do not appear during the early stages of the disease, usually progressing unnoticed.

Regular eye exams are the only way we can detect your AMD in the early stages.

Intermediate Stage AMD Symptoms

This marks the beginning of noticeable AMD symptoms. They may present as:

  • Distorted center of vision with dark areas or complete white outs
  • Blurred vision
  • Straight lines appear wavy and distorted

Advanced Stage AMD Symptoms

Near to complete central vision loss is the only symptom of advanced stage AMD.

How is AMD Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure or treatment for those suffering from AMD. Prevention is the best course of action and can be achieved through lifestyle changes. These changes include:

  • Exercising 3-5 times per week
  • A well balanced, healthy, and nutritious diet
  • Stopping smoking
  • Reducing exposure to harmful UV rays (protective eyewear, hat with a brim, etc)
  • Regulating blood pressure
  • Continued regular eye exams

AMD progression can be slowed down with the use of caretinoids and antioxidants found in the macula.  These include Lutein, zeazanthin and meso-zeazanthin.  Be sure to ask our optometrist what formula is recommended.