Early Signs to Detect Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. There is no cure for this widespread and devastating disease, but early detection can help minimize or slow down the damage and preserve your sight.

Regular eye exams and being on the lookout for early symptoms are your best defenses against AMD damage.

What Is AMD?

The macula is in the center of your retina. It’s the part of your eye responsible for sharp, central vision. AMD is the result of the cells in your macula dying off. Vision loss or impairment is usually gradual, so you may not know you’re developing AMD or have it. That’s why annual eye exams are so important, especially as you get older.    

There are two types of AMD:

Most people with AMD — about 85-90% — have dry AMD, which develops slowly over time. Dry AMD occurs when your macula thins out and protein clumps grow.

Wet AMD is more severe and comes on more suddenly. Abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and eventually leak, causing scarring of the macula. Wet AMD may lead to sudden vision loss.

Early Signs of AMD

AMD can develop in one or both eyes. In the early stages of AMD, especially if it’s just in one eye, symptoms are often unnoticeable or minimal. The first sign you usually notice is a change in the quality of your vision. Other symptoms include distorted central vision and shading of your vision.

Usually, the only way to detect early stages of AMD is through an annual comprehensive eye exam.

Risk Factors for AMD

While the medical community doesn’t know for sure what causes AMD, they do know that certain risk factors can increase your chances for developing it. These risk factors include:

Caucasians and women are also at an increased risk of developing AMD.

AMD Prevention

Certain lifestyle choices can help reduce your risk of developing AMD. These lifestyle factors include:

Regular eye exams can also help you prevent or slow the progression of AMD. At the office of David R. Frazee, OD, we can spot risk factors and save your vision by treating the disease in its early stages.

AMD Treatment Options

Treatment of AMD helps to stem vision loss. No treatment can cure AMD. Research shows that a combination of specific doses of vitamins and minerals can help reduce the risk that dry AMD will progress to the late stages of the disease.

Other treatment options include:

Injections    

We can inject a medication called anti-VEGF into your eye to slow down the development of abnormal blood vessels growing beneath your retina.

Photodynamic therapy

This procedure uses a laser and a drug called verteporfin. Dr. Frazee injects the drug into your arm where it is absorbed by new growing blood vessels. He then shines the laser into your eye to activate the drug in new abnormal blood vessels to close off those blood vessels.

Laser surgery

A laser, directed into your eye, can reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels and prevent them from leaking.

If you suspect you have age-related macular degeneration, call Dr. Frazee in Richardson, Texas, or schedule your appointment online through this website.


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