The eye ailment affects the part of the eye called the macula, which is the central part of the retina where light is focused by the cornea and lens. It is needed for fine visual tasks such as reading, writing, threading a needle, etc.
Types of AMD
There are two types of AMD:
- Dry macular degeneration
- Wet macular degeneration
Dry Macular Degeneration
This is the most common type. It develops very slowly and causes gradual reduction in central vision. It may take a long time before it goes to the final stage. Dry AMD does not affect side vision hence it does not lead to total blindness. About 15% of dry AMD develops to the wet form of AMD.
To note: Dry Macular Degeneration has no treatment.
Wet Macular Degeneration
In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. These leak blood and fluid, leading to macula swelling and a rapid drop in vision.
Causes of AMD
Exactly what triggers the processes that lead to AMD is unclear, but a number of things are known to increase the risk factors of developing it, namely:
- Age. The older a person gets, the more likely they are to develop at least some degree of AMD.
- Family history. Cases of AMD have been known to run in families. If your parents or siblings develop AMD, it is thought that your risk of getting it is increased.
- Smoking. This is a significant risk factor for AMD. In general, people who smoke are up to four times more likely to develop AMD than those who have never smoked.
- Gender. Women are more likely to develop AMD than men, but this could simply be because women tend to live longer than men.
- Ethnicity. Studies have found that rates of AMD are highest in white and Chinese people, and lower in black people.
- Other associated conditions. A number of other factors that may increase your risk of developing AMD have also been identified, but a link with the condition has not yet been proven. These include alcohol consumption, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
- Straight lines start to appear distorted, or the centre of vision becomes distorted
- Dark, blurry areas or whiteout appears in the centre of vision
- Diminished or changed colour perception
- Deterioration in reading vision
- Having routine eye exams by an ophthalmologist helps prevent vision loss due to AMD.
Drugs such as Lucentis, Avastin and Eylea are injected in the eye to stop the growth of the abnormal blood vessels. One usually requires monthly injections. The condition can recur, which requires additional injections. Sometimes it heals with scarring, leading to permanent visual loss.
Benefits of treatment
- Improves vision
- Prevents retinal detachment
- Is AMD hereditary? No, it is not.
- Is AMD preventable? There is nothing one can do to prevent AMD.
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