Macular degeneration, which is also referred to as age-related macular degeneration or AMD, is a disease that causes vision impairment and blindness. According to the National Eye Institute (NIH), AMD is the number one cause of vision loss and blindness in people who are 50 years of age or older. Thankfully, Dr. Patel at the Wichita Vision Institute can help diagnose and treat this disease.
AMD results in damage to the part of the eye called the macula. The macula is responsible for central vision. When your central vision is impaired, you may not be able to perform everyday activities the way you normally would. These activities include reading, writing, and driving. A damaged macula can make your vision blurry.
Although age increases the risk for macular degeneration, a family history of the disease also raises the risk for macular degeneration. Race is another risk factor since Caucasians are more at risk for AMD than African-Americans and Hispanics are. Smoking can increase the risk for AMD as well, doubling the chance of getting the disease. Having elevated cholesterol and blood pressure levels raises the risk as well.
There is a chance you may be able to cut your risk of developing AMD and slow its progression by making a few adjustments to your lifestyle habits. These adjustments include quitting smoking and engaging in regular exercise. A healthy diet that is abundant in fish and green vegetables with leaves is also beneficial. Cutting back on your salt intake and avoiding high-cholesterol foods can help as well since it is important that you keep your blood pressure and your cholesterol level down. Taking certain vitamins and minerals on a daily basis can hold back the progression of AMD. These vitamins and minerals include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper.
AMD may show no symptoms in its early and transitional stage, but a special eye exam can be performed to detect this disease. A visual acuity test may be part of this exam, along with a dilated eye exam, an Amsler grid, a Fluorescein angiogram, and an optical coherence tomography. The presence of larger than normal drusen deposits under the retina can be an indication of AMD, and pigmentary changes beneath the retina can be an indication.
There is no cure for early stage AMD, but a yearly comprehensive dilated eye exam is recommended to check if the disease is progressing. People who have intermediate AMD or late stage AMD in just the right or left eye may be able to slow the progression of the disease by taking a high dosage of certain vitamins and minerals every day. Therapies available for advanced neovascular AMD include injections, photodynamic therapy (laser treatment), and laser surgery.
At the Wichita Vision Institute, Dr. Patel has a number of treatment options that may be able to lower your risk of developing the disease or slow down the progression. To see if you are at risk or if these treatment options are right for you, contact us today!