Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 50 in the western world.
Although cataracts are still the leading cause of vision loss worldwide, age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 50 in the western world. The risk of ARMD significantly increases with age. In fact, patients between the ages of 64-74 have a one-in-four chance of developing age-related macular degeneration.
The physicians at Northwest Eye Clinic take care of many patients with age-related macular degeneration (ARMD). We have the latest technology (high resolution Optical Coherence Tomography – the Cirrus OCT) to evaluate patients. We also have fundus photography and fluorescein angiography available in our office. We work closely with retina specialists when necessary to make sure our patients receive the best care.
ARMD is a disease that affects the retina, the light sensitive tissue in the back of the eye. The macula is the part of the retina responsible for fine, central vision that allows you to read and drive. This specialized area of the retina is damaged by a degenerative process that causes these light sensitive cells in the macula to slowly break down, gradually blurring and distorting the central vision in the affected eye. Over time, as less of the macula functions, central vision can be gradually lost.
ARMD occurs in two forms: wet and dry. In the earliest stage of the disease, yellow deposits called drusen form beneath the retina. When drusen expand in size and number, they can distort vision. When present for a long time, drusen may cause the overlying retina to thin and stop functioning. This is known as the dry form of macular degeneration. The wet form of the disease occurs when abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula. These new vessels tend to be fragile and often leak blood and fluid, which rapidly damages the macula.
Other risk factors of AMD include smoking, obesity, and family history. Caucasian individuals are more likely to lose vision, and women appear to be at greater risk than men.
Many seniors already have ARMD and don’t know it. Since ARMD is painless and the changes in vision it can cause are subtle, regular eye exams are the best way to detect it in its early stages and help preserve vision. The eye surgeons of Northwest Eye Clinic perform diagnostic testing and treatment and take the time necessary to provide each patient with the information needed to understand their condition and to achieve the best possible outcome. If you, a family member, or a friend have not had a recent eye examination please take a moment to call and schedule an appointment.
For more information about age-related macular degeneration, please see the following websites:
- National Eye Institute
- Prevent Blindness America
- AMD Alliance International
- American Academy of Ophthalmology
- EyeCare America
Lifestyle can play a role in reducing your risk of developing AMD.
- Don’t smoke.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in green leafy vegetables and fish.
- Wear sunglasses (UV protection).
- Maintain excellent blood pressure.
- Keep your weight down.
- Get regular aerobic exercise.