Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

The macula is the central part of the retina responsible for central vision. AMD is a condition which causes loss of central vision.  There are two stages of AMD – the “dry” form which is how the disease typically first begins and the more advanced stage called “wet” AMD which is due to abnormal growth of blood vessels causing leakage and hemorrhage.

By Gary R. Cook, MD from Retina Image Bank, 2019

What are risk factors for AMD?

Age greater than 50 and being female.

Smoking doubles the risk of developing AMD.

Obesity increases the risk of rapidly progressive AMD.

Cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure, heart attack, coronary artery disease, and stroke are associate with an increased risk of AMD.

Genetics - Family members of those with history of AMD are at higher risk.

Poor diet - Eating a healthy diet, predominantly plant-based especially leafy greens and other vegetables, have a lower risk of poor visual outcome.

Lack of activity - Studies have demonstrated that regular activity decreases the risk of AMD.

Ethnicity - Caucasians especially those with light colored irises have a higher risk of AMD.

How can I prevent or slow the progression of AMD?

Exercise daily (at least 15 minutes), eat a plant-based diet loaded with leafy greens and other vegetables, do not smoke, and maintain an appropriate weight. Also, wear sunglasses with UV protection and hats when outdoors.

When should I be seen by an eye care professional?

Dilated eye exams are recommended annually to detect AMD and other retinal diseases. Early diagnosis is essential in saving vision.

Symptoms of dry AMD include gradual onset of central blurriness, especially while reading, inability to recognize faces, need for bright illumination when reading, or loss of color vision.

If you notice rapid onset of central loss of vision in one eye associated with distortion or blind spots, you should be seen within a week of onset as this could indicate the beginning of wet AMD.

a screen shot of a cage

Daily monitoring your vision with an Amsler grid as seen above is a good method of early detection.  Image A is a normal grid while Image B demonstrates distortion and blind spots indicative of wet AMD which should prompt an immediate visit to your eye care professional. Many patients with dry AMD will have baseline mild distortion but if there are rapid changes, the possibility of conversion to wet AMD would be more concerning.

What can be done for AMD?

If you are diagnosed with dry AMD, you will want to be sure you are exercising daily and eating a healthy diet as above, as well as controlling your weight and maintaining normal BP and cholesterol.  If you are unable to exercise or eat a healthy diet, consider taking a vitamin called AREDS 2, which may help to slow the progression of the disease.  If you have wet AMD, ocular injections of medications can preserve and sometimes reverse visual loss.  As a retinal specialist, Dr. Keithahn has years of experience with these injectable medications dating back to when they were first developed and is uniquely trained and qualified to administer these injections and to determine the proper course of monitoring and treatment.  The goal is to provide enough treatment to stabilize the condition and prevent further visual loss while minimizing the frequency of injections and time spent in the clinic.

• Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Video

• Medication Injections - Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Video