Macular Degeneration (AMD) is an age-related macular degeneration (also called ARMD), is a medical condition which can result in blurred or loss of vision in the very centre of a patient's visual field. This eye disease normally occurs in older people, but has been noted in a limited number of younger patients, and is caused by damage to the macula of the retina. The only way to diagnose this condition properly is through a complete eye exam. The severity of AMD/ARMD is diagnosed by the following types:
Early Type Macular Degeneration
Intermediate Type Macular Degeneration
Late Type Macular Degeneration
Late Type Macular Degeneration is additionally divided into "dry" and "wet" forms. Dry form AMD makes up the majority of all diagnosed cases of AMD across the globe.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
The following are the visual symptoms associated with Macular Degeneration. Please note however that self-diagnosis is NOT possible and a trained Ophthalmologist needs to do a full eye examination to obtain a full diagnosis as well as the level of Macular Degeneration which has occurred.
This occurs in the form of metamorphopsia, visually a grid of straight lines appears wavy and may in part appear blank.
When exposed to bright light the patient is slow to recover visual function.
There is a decrease in visual acuity of more than two levels.
Nonexudative macular degeneration patients may be asymptomatic or only experience a gradual loss of central vision. Those with exudative macular degeneration, however, will often experience a rapid onset of blurred vision. In most cases, this rapid blurring of vision is caused by the bleeding of abnormal blood vessels.
Macular Degeneration can lead to trouble with discerning specific colours and a loss in contrast sensitivity.
Both visual hallucinations and flashing lights are associated with severe visual loss in patients suffering from wet AMD.
A Medical Note! Macular degeneration by itself will not lead to total blindness. In most (but not all) cases, some vision remains, mainly peripheral.
What Causes Macular Degeneration?
Although advanced age is without a doubt the main predictor of AMD in people over the age of 50, there are also a number of Environment and Lifestyle Factors which can contribute to the onset of Macular Degeneration. These are:
The smoking of tobacco products increases the risk of AMD by up to three times that of non-smokers.
Diastolic blood pressure (BP) does not significantly affect the occurrence of AMD, but elevated pulse pressure (PP), which is systolic BP minus diastolic BP, significantly increased the risk of late AMD.
Elevated cholesterol is currently believed to increase the risk of suffering from AMD.
Abdominal obesity has been identified as a risk factor in AMD sufferers. This is especially true among male patients.
The consumption of high amounts of saturated fats, trans fats, and omega-6 fatty acids is likely to contribute to AMD. However monounsaturated fats such as omega-3 fatty acids are believed to decrease the risk of AMD.
Can Genetics Contribute to AMD?
Yes, it can! The AMD recurrence ratios for the siblings of an affected individual are between three and sixfold higher than those found in the general population. Currently, 5 sets of gene variants have been identified at three locations on chromosomes which can contribute to the onset of Macular Degeneration. Genetic tests are available for some of these gene variations.
Please contact your local Ophthalmologist to find out more about Macular Degeneration.
The Treatment and Management of AMD
The Treatment of AMD will always vary depending on the category of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Unfortunately, however, there are currently no treatments which can reverse the damage done by AMD, so current treatment methodologies are aimed at slowing the progression of Macular Degeneration down. Modifying factors can be managed, however, and this included the stopping of smoking, making specific dietary changes and including antioxidant and mineral supplementation in a patient’s diet.