Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a condition that affects the center of the retina, called the macula^1^. The macula is the part of the eye responsible for our most acute vision, which we use when reading, driving, and performing other activities that require fine, sharp, or straight-ahead vision^1^.
There are two different types of AMD^1^:
While the causes of AMD may be unknown; things like age, smoking, diet, obesity, exposure to sunlight, high blood pressure and family history of AMD appear to play a role^1^.
In the early stages, AMD goes largely unnoticed, and can only be detected through a dilated eye exam, which may reveal drusen accumulation. However, as AMD progresses, drusen impair the transportation of vital nutrients to the macula and damages the light-sensitive cells of the retina^4^ causing noticeable symptoms, including:
Since peripheral vision is not affected, many people with dry AMD continue in their normal lifestyles with the aid of low-vision optical devices, such as magnifiers^5^.
Wet AMD is treated with injected medications and/or laser surgery by sealing off the leaking blood vessels^5^. These are usually brief and painless outpatient procedures that slow and sometimes even reverse the progression of the degeneration. A small, permanently dark spot is left where the laser makes contact, however.
There's some evidence a diet high in vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E – as well as substances called lutein and zeaxanthin – may slow the progression of dry AMD, and possibly even reduce your risk of getting wet AMD. Talk to an ophthalmologist about whether these could help you^5^.
1. NHS. (2015) Macular Degeneration. Available at: [http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Macular-degeneration/Pages/Introduction.aspx]
2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Available at: [https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-drusen]
3. Macular Degeneration Partnership. Available at: [http://www.amd.org/what-is-macular-degeneration/wet-amd/]
4.All About Vision. (2016) What is Age-Related Macular Degeneration? Available at: [http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/amd.htm]
5. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Macular Degeneration Treatment. (2016) Available at: [https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-treatment]
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