No matter how hard we try to feel our best, it’s normal for our health to weaken as we get older. Our vision is no different and as we age, changes can start to affect our eyes. Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD for short) is estimated to affect as many as 11 million U.S. adults – a number predicted to double over the course of the next half-century.
Here is what you need to know about macular degeneration, how to tell if you are affected, and what you can do to reduce your risk of developing this common eye condition.
Macular degeneration, or AMD, is a condition that occurs when cells in a part of the eye do not function well. This part of the eye is called the macula which is found within the retina– the area at the back of the eye that receives light and turns it into signals sent to the brain to tell us what we can see.
The macula cells are responsible for several elements of vision including central vision, sharpness, and color. When they begin to weaken, this impacts the ease of day-to-day activities.
There are two types of macular degeneration, known as wet and dry.
Dry macular degeneration accounts for around 90% of cases of the condition and is most often seen in individuals over the age of 60. As the cells of the macula get older, they start to break down and hardened deposits form on them, affecting the quality of our vision. Dry AMD develops very slowly over the course of many years and is usually detected during routine eye exams.
Wet macular degeneration occurs in around 10% of cases and nearly always follows dry macular degeneration. It occurs when the patient starts to develop abnormal blood vessels in the macula, and these begin to leak blood and fluid that causes scarring and other vision problems.
Knowing that you are affected by AMD can be particularly challenging since symptoms develop slowly and are quite subtle. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to know what to look out for. Some of the symptoms most associated with AMD include the following:
Distorted Vision, straight lines appear bent or wavy
Difficulty seeing fine detail in objects
Needing brighter lighting when reading or doing any close-up work
Unable to adapt visually when moving from light to dark environments
Sensitivity to light
Colors seem less bright and intense than before
Greater difficulty recognizing faces and telling people apart
A defined blurry patch or blind spot in your vision
It’s important to be aware that while dry AMD develops slowly, wet AMD symptoms are usually noticeable much more rapidly. It’s also crucial that you act as quickly as possible to preserve as much of your vision as you can. Although there are treatments that can help to limit the damage caused by AMD and that will help you to manage day to day, any vision that is lost is regrettably, permanent.
For more information on macular degeneration, visit Eye Care Associates in San Bernardino at our office in San Bernardino, California. You can call (909) 316-2100 today to schedule an appointment.