Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a problem with your retina. It happens when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. With AMD you lose your central vision. You cannot see fine details, whether you are looking at something close or far. But your peripheral (side) vision will still be normal. For instance, imagine you are looking at a clock with hands. With AMD, you might see the clock’s numbers but not the hands.
AMD is very common. It is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 years or older.
At Joseph Eye & Laser Center, we guide you through your options and help you determine the treatment that is customized for your specific needs. Dr. Christopher Joseph, DO, FACS is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of Age-Related Macular Degeneration, as well as Cataract, and Glaucoma surgery. He completed an extra year of training by completing a fellowship in Pittsburgh, PA, which specialized in Laser Cataract Surgery, and Minimally Invasive Glaucoma Surgery (MIGS). Dr. Joseph is also one of the few Ophthalmologist in the United States recognized for his excellence by the America College of Surgeons (ACS). In 2018, the ACS nominated Dr. Joseph as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS). At Joseph Eye & Laser, we have the most high-tech OCT, which allows us to detect AMD at the earliest possible time.
There are two types of AMD
This form is quite common. About 80% (8 out of 10) of people who have AMD have the dry form. Dry AMD is when parts of the macula get thinner with age and tiny clumps of protein called drusen grow. You slowly lose central vision. There is no way to treat dry AMD yet.
This form is less common but much more serious. Wet AMD is when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels may leak blood or other fluids, causing scarring of the macula. You lose vision faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD.
Many people don’t realize they have AMD until their vision is very blurry. This is why it is important to have regular visits to an ophthalmologist. He or she can look for early signs of AMD before you have any vision problems.
Who Is at Risk for AMD?
You are more likely to develop AMD if you:
- eat a diet high in saturated fat (found in foods like meat, butter, and cheese)
- are overweight
- smoke cigarettes
- are over 50 years old
- have hypertension (high blood pressure)
- have a family history of AMD
Having heart disease is another risk factor for AMD, as is having high cholesterol levels. Caucasians (white people) also have an elevated risk of getting AMD.
During an eye exam, your ophthalmologist may ask you to look at an Amsler grid. This grid helps you notice any blurry or blank spots in your field of vision. Your ophthalmologist will also look inside your eye through a special lens. He or she can see if there are changes in the retina and macula.
Your ophthalmologist will put dilating eye drops in your eye to widen your pupil. This allows him or her to look through a special lens at the inside of your eye.
Your doctor may do fluorescein angiography to see what is happening with your retina. Yellow dye (called fluorescein) is injected into a vein, usually in your arm. The dye travels through your blood vessels. A special camera takes photos of the retina as the dye travels throughout its blood vessels. This shows if abnormal new blood vessels are growing under the retina.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is another way to look closely at the retina. A machine scans the retina and provides very detailed images of the retina and macula.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration Treatment
Dry AMD treatment
Right now, there is no way to treat the dry form of AMD. However, people with lots of drusen or serious vision loss might benefit from taking a certain combination of nutritional supplements. A large study found those people may slow their dry AMD by taking these vitamins and minerals daily:
Vitamin C (500 mg), Vitamin E (400 IU), Lutein (10 mg), Zeaxanthin (2 mg), Zinc (80 mg), Copper (2 mg)
Your ophthalmologist can tell you if vitamins and minerals are recommended for your dry AMD.
Wet AMD treatment
To help treat wet AMD, there are medications called anti-VEGF drugs. Anti-VEGF treatment helps reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels in your retina. It also slows any leaking from blood vessels. This medicine is delivered to your eye through a very slender needle.
Laser surgery may also be used to treat some types of wet AMD. Your eye surgeon shines a laser light beam on the abnormal blood vessels. This reduces the number of vessels and slows their leaking.
Only your eye surgeon, can assess whether you have AMD, Cataracts or Glaucoma and determine the necessary treatments or surgeries, for these diseases. These procedures are extremely safe, and have a high success rate, however, the use of cutting-edge technology can be difficult to master, so picking the right surgeon is critical. Dr. Joseph is Fellowship trained in minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) and laser glaucoma surgery (SLT). As well as, LASER cataract surgery, dropless cataract surgery, and high-tech lens implants (IOLs). If you would like to further learn about any of our Age-Related Macular Degeneration evaluations, Cataract or MIGS procedures, contact the trusted experts at Joseph Eye & Laser Center today. (330) 619-3155