What is Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?

AMD is an acronym for Age-Related Macular Degeneration.  It is a progressive disease associated with aging that gradually destroys central vision and impairs ability to perform common daily tasks such as reading, driving or watching television. AMD is one of the leading causes of severe vision loss in adults over the age of 50. There are two forms of AMD- Dry AMD and Wet AMD.

  • Dry AMD is caused by accumulation of cellular debris in the macula which leads to damage in the light sensitive cells. This eventually leads to distortion of central vision.   Although Dry AMD progresses fairly slowly for most patients, treatment options still exists that may delay and possibly prevent dry AMD from advancing to a point where severe vision loss occurs.  One of the treatment options includes nutritional supplementation in the form of very specific high-dose vitamin therapy (AREDS).
  • The wet form of AMD is characterized by spontaneous leakage of blood and other fluids into the macular by tiny blood vessels. This destroys the ability of the macular to function properly.  Wet AMD is more serious than the Dry type because it can progress very rapidly, sometimes in a matter of weeks, causing loss of vision.  Wet AMD may be treated using drug therapy through injections in the eye and/or laser surgery.

Factors affecting risk of developing AMD:
Increasing age, family history of AMD, smoking, UV light exposure, obesity, blood pressure, eye color, and gender.

Doctors Comment:
You should expect better visual outcome if AMD is detected or diagnosed early.  Therefore it is important to understand if you are at risk, as this will help you and your eye care provider to develop a personalized program to manage the disease. It is of note that AMD cannot be reversed; however vision loss associated with it can be prevented or delayed through early detection, monitoring, diagnosis and treatment. You stand at a better chance to save your sight if you understand your risk level early………..Dr Echendu Damian OD, LLB, MSc.

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