What is Macular Degeneration and Other FAQs
WHAT CAUSES MACULAR DEGENERATION?
Age-related macular degeneration of the eye (AMD) is the most common cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60. It occurs when the small central portion of your retina (called the macula) deteriorates. Typically, AMD affects both of your eyes and only your central vision, not the vision around the edge of your sight.
WHAT IS AMD?
AMD affects your vision when looking directly at an object, such as when you are reading or watching television. The vision becomes distorted and blurry, and over time, can cause a blank patch in the centre of your vision.
WHAT IS JUVENILE MACULAR DEGENERATION?
Juvenile macular degeneration is a general term for several inherited eye diseases that affect children and young adults. These eye diseases are caused by gene mutations passed down through families and while there is no treatment, visual aids such as glasses, adaptive training, and other assistance, can help young people with this disease to function.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WET AND DRY AMD?
There are two main types of macular degeneration:
DRY MACULAR DEGENERATION
The dry form of is the more common type of AMD and is caused by yellow deposits called drusen in the macula. As drusen increase in size and number you will notice dimming or distortion of vision, which is most commonly noticed when reading. This can lead to blind spots in the center of your vision and in advanced cases, loss of central vision.
WET MACULAR DEGENERATION
Only 10-15% of people with AMD have the wet form, which is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels from the choroid underneath the macular. The blood vessels leak fluid into the retina and causes vision to become distorted. Over time the blood vessels and bleeding can scar and cause permanent loss of central vision.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON AMD SYMPTOMS I SHOULD WATCH FOR?
The most commonly experienced symptoms of macular degeneration can include:
- Difficulty reading small print (even with reading classes)
- Straight lines become wavy or distorted
- Vision is not as clear as it used to be
If you think you notice any early signs of AMD it is important to schedule an eye appointment with your optometrist.
WHAT CAUSES MACULAR DEGENERATION?
While we do not know the exact causes, there are several factors that can increase your chances of developing AMD:
- Age – most common in people over 65 years, but can occur in people in their 40s and 50s.
- Gender – more common in women, likely because women live longer.
- Genes – a combination of both genetic and environmental factors.
- Smoking – greatly increases your chances of developing AMD; stopping smoking can reduce your risk.
- Sunlight – exposure to high levels of sunlight and UV rays. Learn about How to Protect Your Eyes from UV Rays.
- Diet – some evidence that vitamins A, C and E, as well as zinc can slow the progression of AMD. Check out our article Best Foods for Eye Health for some great ideas on how you can adjust your diet.
IS AMD HEREDITARY?
Many people ask, “Is macular degeneration genetic?” The answer is that there are some genes identified as being linked to the development of AMD in some people. However, not all AMD is thought to be inherited.
WHAT ARE MY MACULAR DEGENERATION TREATMENT OPTIONS?
Our Cambridge optometrist can help determine proper treatment for AMD, depending on your specific symptoms.
HOW TO PREVENT AMD?
There are several proven macular degeneration prevention strategies you can practice:
- Stop smoking
- Reduce your exposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses
- Eat a healthy diet including green leafy vegetables
IS THERE A CURE FOR AMD?
No, there is no cure for macular degeneration at this time, but there are several treatments that can help delay the progress of AMD and improve your vision. Unionville Optometry now offers OCT eye scans for early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of this disease.
You can learn more about this disease National Eye Institute page.
To learn more about macular degeneration, call our Unionville optometry office at 1-905-477-4488 to make an appointment with Dr. David Innamorato or Dr. Krista Innamorato today.