What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD), is a medical condition which may result in blurred or no vision in the center of the visual field. It is due to damage to the macula part of the retina, typically occurring in older people. While it does not typically result in complete blindness, loss of central vision can make it hard to recognize faces, drive, read, or perform other activities of daily life.
Two types of AMD
This form is quite common. About 80% (8 out of 10) people who have AMD have the dry form. Dry AMD is when parts of the macula get thinner with age and tiny clumps of protein called drusen grow. You slowly lose central vision. There is no way to treat dry AMD yet.
This form is less common but much more serious. Wet AMD is when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels may leak blood or other fluids, causing scarring of the macula. You lose vision faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD.
Prevention includes exercising, eating well, and not smoking. There is no cure or treatment that returns vision already lost. For the wet form, anti-VEGF medication injected into the eye or less commonly laser coagulation or photodynamic therapy may slow worsening vision. Dietary supplements in those who already have the disease may slow progression.
Many people don’t realize they have AMD until their vision is very blurry. This is why it is important to have a yearly dilated eye exam with an ophthalmologist. Dr. Bentz can look for early signs of AMD before you have any vision problems.
Test your vision with the Amsler grid
The Amsler grid, used since 1945, is a grid of horizontal and vertical lines used to monitor a person’s central visual field. It is a diagnostic tool that aids in the detection of visual disturbances caused by changes in the retina, particularly the macula, as well as the optic nerve and the visual pathway to the brain.
Here is how to use the Amsler grid:
In good light, look at the grid from about 12–15 inches away. Be sure to wear your reading glasses if you normally use them.
Cover one eye. Look directly at the dot in the center of the grid with your uncovered eye. Notice if any of the lines look bent or wavy. See if any part of the grid looks blurry, dim, or out of shape.
Now cover your other eye and test your vision this same way again.
Call the office right away at 561-689- 5500 if you notice that any lines or parts of the grid look wavy, blurry, or dim.