Macular Degeneration and Important Information
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an acquired disease of the retina that can cause significant visual impairment.
Approximately 11 million people are affected with AMD in the US alone. The prevalence is similar to that of all invasive cancers combined, and more than double Alzheimer’s Disease. The risk for AMD increases more than three-fold in patients older than 75 years of age compared to individuals between 65-74 years of age.
The diagnosis of ARMD is typically made after considering a patient's age, eye examination findings, and family history. Symptoms that patients may note include slow or sudden onset of decreased visual acuity, distorted vision, or missing vision (a “blind spot”) when trying to look at something in the center of your field of view. Many patients in the early stages of the disease however possess no symptoms.
Although there are no screening guidelines, if there is a strong family history of macular degeneration or someone has difficulty with their vision, it is recommended that adults over the age of 65 have an eye exam about every year.
Antioxidant vitamins and minerals (AREDS2 multivitamins) are an effective treatment for dry AMD that has been diagnosed by your eye doctor. Smoking is a large risk factor for macular degeneration, especially wet macular degeneration. Treatment of exudative (or wet) AMD includes injections of medications into the eye, or less commonly a laser treatment to the retina.
Macular Degeneration is an area of intense research by scientists and physicians, and there are many ongoing clinical research trials and new treatments in development. If you or someone you know is concerned about possible AMD, I encourage you to make an appointment with your local eye doctor.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Matthew Manry, M.D. Dr. Manry is a Surgical and Medical Retinal Specialist with Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado and may be reached at 303-772-3300.
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