As we get older, we begin to experience more and more problems with our health. It’s an unfortunate consequence of living. One part of our body that may face a brand new set of challenges is our eyes. Whether it’s glaucoma, cataracts, or losing visual acuity through any other means, age plays a very important role when it comes to our ability to see.
One condition, in particular, is directly associated with aging, as is denoted by the first word in its name. Age-related macular degeneration (or AMD) occurs commonly and is most frequently seen in patients older than 60. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of vision loss in this age group.
What Is AMD?
AMD causes one to lose their vision by slowly damaging the part of your eye that helps you see straight ahead. This part of the eye is called the “macula” (hence macular degeneration). The process can be so slow, in fact, that the disease can be hard to notice at all for some people.
AMD comes in two different “types”: wet AMD or dry AMD. The latter is much more common, affecting around 80% of those that suffer from the condition, and is not as dangerous as its wet counterpart. Dry AMD occurs when macula begins to become thin and frail, and certain proteins build up on the surface, blocking or distorting vision. Left by itself, it can sometimes turn into wet AMD. Wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels grow out of place under the retina. These blood vessels are prone to bursting and leaking and cause permanent damage. Those who suffer from wet AMD lose their vision much more quickly than those with dry.
Who Is at Risk?
Obviously, age is a very important factor when determining the risk of developing AMD, but there are other things that play a strong role. For instance, smoking has been shown to double the chance, and you can be genetically predisposed to the condition. Other factors include diet and exercise, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Currently, there is no way to treat AMD in its dry form. Changing certain lifestyle habits (diet, exercise, smoking, etc.) can help stop dry AMD from becoming the more dangerous and fast-acting wet AMD, but there is, unfortunately, no way to reverse it. There are, however, a few prescription medications on the market that can help with wet AMD. These drugs help prevent the blood vessels from growing on the retina.
The lack of real treatment for this disease is a perfect example as to why it is so important to regularly schedule appointments with your eye doctor. Early detection and intervention can give you the information you need to stop your dry AMD from becoming worse or to prevent permanent damage from wet AMD.
Regular checkups are crucial to maintaining good eye health in general, not just for preventing AMD. Dr. Diamante can provide expert advice and successful treatments for a wide variety of issues. Come by the practice in Johnston, Rhode Island to find out how he can help you!