Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is among the leading causes of vision loss for people aged 55 and older, and the disease makes simple tasks such as driving and reading increasingly difficult. To help those who may be affected aware of the condition, February is AMD Awareness Month.

In AMD, the macula, or small center portion of the retina, degenerates. The retina is the tissue at the back of the eye that senses light and is connected to the optic nerve. Though AMD is rarely a condition that leads to complete blindness, it often takes away much of a person’s central vision.

Symptoms of AMD can be difficult to detect at the onset of the disease. As it develops, people will see a dim, blurry spot in the center of vision, or focal point. Over time this spot often darkens and spreads. Color perception is also often affected as a result of AMD.

There are two forms of age-related macular degeneration:

Dry macular degeneration (non-neovascular) is the most common type and occurs when drusen, or small yellowish deposits, form in the macula. It is usually found in the earliest stages of the disease. As more drusen form and increase in size, vision is distorted, but sight remains intact. As the disease process continues the light-sensitive layer of tissue atrophies, which can lead to reduced function in central vision. The rate of vision loss is slow and takes place gradually over time.

Wet macular degeneration (neovascular) is frequently the advanced stage of the dry form. Here, blood vessels form underneath the macula. These blood vessels can seep blood into the retina, which causes increased distortion in vision, as well as blind spots. In time, these vessels can scar and lead to permanent damage, if not complete loss of central vision. It is important to note that a minority of people who have dry macular degeneration will experience the wet form.

Age is the main factor for those developing AMD, but there can also be hereditary factors too.

Contributing factors to developing AMD include:

  • Light-skinned individuals
  • Those with light-colored eyes
  • Women

Lifestyle factors that can lead to AMD include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Total blindness is not common for AMD sufferers, but often those affected only have periphery vision.

Early detection of AMD is vital to limit its spread and maintain vision. Eye doctors can perform myriad of tests to detect the disease. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of AMD, call Tower Clock Eye Center at 920-499-3102 or schedule an appointment online.


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