Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a relatively common eye condition. It is the leading cause of loss of vision in adults age 50 and older. AMD makes it difficult for people to see objects that are straight ahead.
Some people experience gradual vision loss over a long time, while others have a progressive form of the disease, which can cause loss of vision in one eye or both. As the disease progresses, objects appear dimmer and dark spots may develop in the central field of vision.
AMD does not cause complete blindness, but it can affect someone’s ability to see faces, do work up close, drive, read, write, cook or live alone.
Who’s at risk?
While Age is a significant factor in developing AMD, there are some additional risk factors.
- Race – AMD is more frequently diagnosed in Caucasians than Hispanics/Latinos or African Americans.
- Family History/Genetics – If someone has a family history of AMD, they are at higher risk for developing this degenerative disease. Researchers have identified approximately 20 genes that may influence the development of AMD; however, many more genetic markers are suspected. There are no genetic tests that can predict with 100% certainty who will develop AMD.
- Smoking – Smoking more than doubles the risk of developing AMD.
There are several different comprehensive tests that will help measure if someone suffers from AMD, whether it’s early, intermediate or late stages.
- Visual Acuity Test – This eye chart is used to see how someone can see at distances.
- Dilated Eye Exam – Using special eye drops, the pupils are dilated, and the eye doctor can take a look at the back of the eye, retina and optic nerve.
- Amsler Grid – If someone suffers from AMD, the lines in this grid test either disappear or look wavy.
- Fluorescein Angiogram – A fluorescent dye is injected in your arm and goes into your bloodstream. Pictures are taken when the dye passes through the eye’s blood vessels.
- Optical Coherence Tomography – This is similar to an ultrasound, except it uses light waves to capture high-resolution images of the eyes. The eyes are dilated, and the light beam test is painless.
There is no cure for AMD; however, doctors recommend that people exercise regularly, avoid smoking and eat a healthy diet to help prolong vision damage.