Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in older people. It can make everyday activities difficult, such as seeing faces, driving, or even reading. While it might happen quickly, most people experience it as a slow decline of visual acuity that they barely notice.
Since visual acuity can be difficult to spot as it happens, it’s vital to have regular appointments with your vision care professional.
What Are the Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration. While one is a normal symptom of aging, the other is a more serious condition that requires treatment.
- Dry AMD is the most common form of macular degeneration. It occurs as the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for central and color vision as well as fine detail, thins with age.
- Wet AMD is a less common condition where abnormal cells grow in the back of the eye and cause damage to the macula. This only occurs at a late stage.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
AMD happens in stages. Each stage has its own symptoms to look out for.
- Early-stage dry AMD doesn’t have any symptoms.
- Intermediate-stage dry AMD may not cause any symptoms, but some people notice faint indications such as difficulty seeing in low light or mild blurriness in their vision.
- Late-stage dry and wet AMD may cause straight lines to look crooked or wavy. Your central vision may develop blurriness, which may grow more pronounced until you notice blank spots. Colors may grow dimmer, and you may have trouble seeing in low light.
What Causes AMD?
The cause of age-related macular degeneration remains a mystery. However, research does indicate several potential factors. These include:
- Age, especially over 50
- Cardiovascular disease
- Family history
- Diets high in saturated fat
Treatments for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
There are currently no treatments for dry AMD. Wet AMD can be treated with certain medications. Laser surgery may also help.
To help keep AMD at bay, eat plenty of leafy, green vegetables, fish, yellow vegetables and fruits, and nuts high in omega-3 fatty acids. You can also quit smoking and increase your exercise levels.