To understand age–related macular degeneration – also known as AMD – you need to know that it is among the most common causes of vision loss and blindness in people over 50 in the United States. Age–related macular degeneration refers to progressive damage to the part of the eye called the macula.
The macula is the center of your vision. It allows you to see fine details, such as letters on a page, faces, and objects that are close by. As it gets damaged, you may have trouble reading or recognizing faces if they are not directly in front of you.
Macular degeneration is a severe eye disease that can be diagnosed at first as an age-related problem. However, it’s important to note that many younger people are affected, too. Here are the top home remedies for macular degeneration.
What is Age–Related Macular Degeneration?
Age–related macular degeneration (AMD) causes damage to the central area of the retina. The retina has a layer of light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye that allows you to see fine details, shapes, and colors. AMD usually affects both eyes, although it can occur in one or both eyes separately.
There are two types:
Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration
This type accounts for 90 percent of all cases of AMD and occurs when the cells that line the back of the retina begin to break down and die. Dry AMD is also known as atrophic AMD because it involves retinal tissue thinning or degeneration.
Dry AMD develops slowly over the years and doesn’t usually cause changes in vision until late in its course, when you may start to notice problems with fine details, such as recognizing faces or distinguishing between objects.
This type accounts for 10 percent of all cases and involves abnormal blood vessels growing into or under your retina from other parts of your body (choroid). In wet AMD, it progresses rapidly and can cause sudden loss of central vision if it involves leaking blood vessels under the macula.
This type involves abnormal blood vessels growing beneath the retina, which leak, leading to scarring and cell death. Wet AMD can happen at any age but usually occurs after age 60 and affects only one eye initially.
Both types of AMD are caused by deposits called drusen that form on Bruch’s membrane under the retina — thin layers at the back of your eye that help nourish photoreceptor cells and connect them to other retinal cells.
In people with both wet and dry forms of macular degeneration, these deposits become large enough to interfere with light-reaching photoreceptors, which causes blurred vision or total loss of vision.
Risk Factors for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
AMD is among the leading causes of vision loss among older Americans. It occurs when the macula, a small area near the retina’s center, deteriorates. The retina captures images and sends them to the brain through the optic nerve.
As you age, risk factors for AMD increase. These include
- Age: Your risk of developing AMD increases as you get older, especially after age 60.
- Family history of AMD: If you have a parent or sibling with AMD, your chances of developing it are greater than those of someone without such a family history.
- Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of developing AMD by two to three times in smokers compared to nonsmokers; quitting smoking reduces this risk.
- Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed to AMD based on their ethnic background or gender. For example, Hispanics are at higher risk for developing dry AMD than Caucasians. Men are more likely to develop wet AMD than women.
Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
AMD is a disease that causes a gradual loss of vision. It’s the leading cause of blindness in people over age 65.
- AMD affects the macula, which is an oval-shaped area near the center of your retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of your eye. The macula helps you see fine details and colors. The retina also sends visual signals to your brain through the optic nerve.
- You may be unable to tell that one of your eyes sees something different than the other. For example, if you have double vision while reading, it might feel like you see two lines on top of each other instead of one line below another. Double vision can make it hard for people with AMD to read or do close work without getting headaches from having to strain their eyes so much just to see clearly.
- Blurred vision or a spotty, blurry spot in your field of vision. This is most noticeable when reading or doing detailed work such as sewing or needlework.
- AMD damages or destroys cells in the macula, causing blind spots that interfere with your ability to see faces and read. Over time, it can decrease your central vision, making it difficult to see in dim light or at night, for example, or to recognize objects from a distance.
Treatments for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age–related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60. It is an eye disease that causes loss of vision.
AMD affects the macula, a small area in the retina’s center that allows you to see fine detail. It’s responsible for reading, driving, and seeing objects clearly in your environment. If you have AMD, you’ll gradually notice that things are getting blurry. You might also see “floaters” or flashes of light in your peripheral vision.
- Treatments for Age-related macular degeneration include:
- Medications such as anti-VEGF drugs that can stop or slow down the growth of abnormal blood vessels
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT), which uses a particular drug injected into your vein followed by exposure to light for about 20 minutes
- Cataract surgery with intraocular lens implantation
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