What Is Macular Degeneration? How Does It Affect Eyes and Who Are in the High-Risk Zone of AMD?

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Macular degeneration or age-related macular degeneration, is a problem of eye where retina (macula) is damaged due to aging. In AMD, the central vision is lost but peripheral vision remains normal.

For example, a patient with AMD won’t be able to see the fine details objects before the affected eye but he could try recognizing the object using his peripheral vision. If you look at an analog wall clock with an affected eye, you will only see the digits but the hands would be missing.

Types of AMD

Dry AMD

In dry AMD, the macular becomes thinner due to aging and allows building of drusen that are tiny clumps of protein. The growth of drusen affects the central vision at the first stage and total vision loss at an advance stage. Dry AMD is a common problem – 8 out of 10 AMD patients suffer from the dry AMD.

Wet AMD

Abnormal growth of blood vessels under the retina cause wet AMD, when the new vessels leak blood and other type of fluids in the retina. The leaking fluid scars the macular causing damage to the central part. The scarring of macula leads to loss of central vision and deteriorates to complete vision loss in the affected eye. Wet AMD is less common but more serious in nature.

Risk factors for AMD

People above 40 years of age are in the high-risk zone for developing AMD but youngsters could also develop AMD due to lifestyle changes or family history of the problem.

Watch out for factors responsible for AMD in younger people

  • Diet rich in saturated fat increases risk of AMD. Food including meat, butter and cheese have high concentration of saturated fat.
  • Overweight and obese people can also get affected with AMD.
  • Chain smokers and even passive smokers aren’t free from the risk of getting the retina problem.
  • People suffering from hypertension have more chances of developing AMD.
  • Family history of AMD also makes people susceptible of AMD.

Symptoms of AMD

  • Decreasing quality of vision with blurriness. For example, difficulty with reading text matter in fine print and driving.
  • Emergence of dark areas in the center of vision.
  • Change in color perception.

Treatment

Both dry and wet AMD problems can be cured depending on the level of disease and age of the patient. It can be controlled with medicines, vision aids, surgery and laser therapy. But rate of success depends on individual conditions of patients.