January 24, 2014

Eye Disease – Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the eye diseases that does not have diabetes as a risk factor. Yet many people with diabetes may still develop AMD. AMD damages, and then destroys, central vision, your straight ahead finely detailed vision. AMD takes two forms, wet and dry, with 90 percent of cases being dry. The remaining 10 percent are wet, a more advanced form of AMD. Wet AMD is more damaging, causing about 90 percent of serious vision loss.

Starting with the highest risk, the people most at risk are:
  • People over age of 60
  • People that smoke
  • Have a family history of AMD
  • Are white Caucasian and female
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Are obese

AMD is painless. It may worsen slowly or rapidly. Dry AMD may affect central vision within a few years. Wet AMD can cause sudden and dramatic changes in vision. In either case, early detection and treatment are keys to slowing vision loss.

See your eye doctor right away if you notice any of the following:
Straight lines appearing wavy, a symptom of wet AMD
Blurred central vision, the most common dry AMD symptom
Trouble seeing things in the distance
Problems seeing colors correctly
Difficulty seeing details, like faces or words on a page
Dark or "blank" spots blocking your central vision

Wet AMD treatment may include:
  • Special drug injections – this is by far the most common treatment
  • Laser surgery
  • Photodynamic therapy

Dry AMD treatment is aimed at monitoring or slowing the progression of the disease. Vision loss from advanced dry AMD cannot be prevented. But, taking certain dietary supplements may help stabilize the disease in some patients. One large study has shown that taking high doses of the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, and zeaxanthin, along with zinc may help slow AMD progression in cases of:
  • Intermediate AMD
  • High risk of progressing to advanced AMD
  • Advanced AMD in just one eye

However, this regimen did not prevent AMD onset or slow its progression in early-stage disease.

These preventive steps may help keep AMD at bay:
  • Eat more leafy green vegetables and fish.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Check your blood pressure regularly. Get treatment if your blood pressure is too high.

AMD is detected by using a comprehensive dilated exam. The exam may include any or several of the following:
  1. Visual acuity test – the eye chart measures how well you see at distances.
  2. Dilated eye exam – this allows your eye doctor to see the back of your eye. He/she then uses a special magnifying lens to look at your retina and optic nerve for signs of AMD and other eye problems.
  3. Amsler grid – your eye doctor may ask you to look at an Amsler grid to help determine if lines in the grid disappear or appear wavy, which is an indication of AMD.
  4. Fluorescein angiogram – this test is performed by an ophthalmologist in which a fluorescent dye is injected into your arm. Pictures are then taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in the eye. This helps see leaking blood vessels, which occurs in Wet AMD.
  5. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) – this is similar to ultrasound, but uses light waves to capture high-resolution images of any tissues that light can penetrate, such as the eyes.

The key here is early detection and keeping your appointments to give the eye doctor the best odds for helping you. Please read this.

No comments: