Age-Related Macular Degeneration: More Than Just a Macular Condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration: More Than Just a Macular Condition

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is usually associated with macular degeneration, which is an age-related deterioration of the macula, the area of the retina that is responsible for central vision. However, AMD is more than just a macular condition; it can affect other parts of the eye and cause significant vision loss if left untreated. In this blog post, we will discuss the various causes and effects of AMD and what steps can be taken to prevent and treat it.

AMD is more than just a macular condition

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye condition that affects the central vision of millions of people, typically over the age of 50. While its name implies that it only affects the macular region of the eye, AMD has far-reaching effects on vision, affecting many aspects of day-to-day life.

The different types of AMD

There are two main types of AMD: wet and dry.

Wet AMD is the more severe form of the condition. It is caused by abnormal blood vessels that grow beneath the macula and leak fluid or blood, resulting in rapid and irreversible vision loss.

Dry AMD is less severe but more common. It occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula break down, gradually leading to a blurred or hazy central vision.

It's important to note that some people may have a combination of both types of AMD. This can lead to more severe vision loss than either type alone. Additionally, people with one type of AMD may progress to the other type over time. 

The symptoms of AMD

The most common symptom of AMD is blurred or distorted central vision. This occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula deteriorate or become damaged. Other symptoms may include dark spots in the center of your vision, a gradual reduction in colour intensity, difficulty reading small print, difficulty recognizing faces, and difficulty adapting to low-light environments.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor immediately to receive an eye exam and discuss treatment options. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of AMD and may even help prevent further vision loss. 

The causes of AMD 

The exact cause of AMD is unknown, but experts believe it is related to aging and a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Research has linked AMD to high blood pressure, smoking, and a high-fat diet. Age is also considered a major risk factor, as the disorder is more likely to occur in those over 50. In addition, AMD is more common in people with lighter-colored eyes and those with a family history of AMD. 

If you are concerned that you may be at risk for AMD, you must visit your eye doctor regularly for checkups and get the right treatments if needed. By taking proactive steps, you can better protect your vision.

The risk factors for AMD 

The exact cause of AMD remains unknown, and several risk factors can increase the chances of developing this condition.

One of the major risk factors for AMD is age. People over the age of 50 are at higher risk for developing AMD than younger individuals. This is because the macula, responsible for clear, sharp vision, naturally deteriorates with age.

Another risk factor for AMD is smoking. Smoking increases the chances of developing AMD and other eye conditions. Those who smoke or have smoked in the past are much more likely to develop AMD than those who don't.

Genetics also plays a role in AMD risk. If a family member has been diagnosed with AMD, your chances of developing it are much higher. 

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light may also increase your risk of developing AMD. Too much exposure to UV rays can damage the cells in the macula and lead to AMD. Wearing sunglasses and hats with wide brims can help protect your eyes from UV rays. 

Finally, certain health conditions may also increase your risk of AMD. For example, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are all associated with an increased risk of developing AMD.

The treatment options for AMD

Treatment for Dry AMD: 

The only known treatment option for dry AMD is to stop the disease from progressing. For this, dietary supplements and medications have been proven to be effective in slowing down the progression of dry AMD. These supplements and medications include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc. Additionally, certain lifestyle changes, such as avoiding smoking, increasing physical activity, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding direct sunlight, can also help prevent the condition's further progression.

Treatment for Wet AMD:

For wet AMD, the goal of treatment is to preserve or improve vision by stopping or reducing leaking blood vessels behind the retina. 

Anti-VEGF drugs: The most common treatments for wet AMD include injections directly into the eye with anti-VEGF drugs. This type of medication works by blocking a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) which helps create blood vessels that leak into the back of the eye.

Intraocular Radiation Therapy: Intraocular radiation therapy (also called photodynamic therapy) can also treat wet AMD by destroying leaky blood vessels in the back of the eye.

Laser Surgery: Laser surgery may be recommended if the wet AMD has created scarring on the macula and needs to be reduced or removed to preserve vision.

Home and natural remedies:  In addition to conventional medical treatments, home and natural remedies may also be beneficial in treating AMD.

  • Eating foods rich in antioxidants like blueberries and spinach, as well as increasing consumption of omega-3 fatty acids through fish oil supplements, are all believed to help prevent or slow the progression of AMD.
  • Exercise also prevents AMD because it increases eye circulation and reduces stress levels.
  • Keeping your eyes clean is also important; make sure to regularly wash your face with lukewarm water and use lubricating eyedrops if you experience any dryness or irritation in your eyes.
  • Wearing sunglasses when outdoors will also protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays, which can damage the delicate tissue around your eyes.

Age-related macular degeneration is a serious condition that can lead to vision loss and decreased quality of life. Early diagnosis and management is essential in preventing further vision loss. While there is no cure for AMD, treatments can help slow the progression of the disease. It is important to be aware of the risk factors associated with AMD, such as age, family history, smoking, and diet. Regular eye exams are necessary to detect AMD early and ensure proper treatment. Taking preventative measures and talking to your doctor about the best treatment options can help protect your vision and maintain healthy eyes for years to come. 

How Cellview’s Ultra-Widefield WRI-1 Assists with Early Detection of AMD: 

The WRI-1 Ultra-Widefield Retinal Imager from Cellview produces a retinal image up to 133° in a single-capture, or 200° automated 2 image auto-stitched, which is a much larger area of the retina than traditional imaging methods. This technology can help with early detection of AMD by allowing operators to see the full extent of the disease and identify any changes in the retina that may not be visible with other imaging techniques. 

By using ultra-widefield retinal imaging, operators can detect and monitor the progression of AMD and other retinal diseases in their earliest stages. This is important because early detection of AMD can lead to earlier treatment, which can slow or even stop the progression of the disease.

One of the key benefits of the WRI-1 Ultra-Widefield Retinal Imager is that it can capture a detailed view of the peripheral retina, which is often affected by AMD. This can help operators identify any areas of abnormal blood vessel growth or other changes that may indicate the presence of AMD. By detecting these changes early, treatment can be initiated before the disease progresses to a more advanced stage, potentially preventing significant vision loss.