Macular Degeneration and Aging
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition that affects the macula of the eye as people grow older. The macula helps individuals with central vision, allowing them to see detailed images in the middle of the field of vision. AMD slowly destroys the central part of the visual field and occurs along with damage to the retina.
Patients who suffer severe cases of AMD may have difficulty with normal tasks such as driving, reading, and watching television. It is the leading cause of visual impairment affecting people over the age of 50. It is estimated that 20 percent of those with AMD will progress to experience severe vision loss.
AMD Warning Signs
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive disease and develops gradually. Patients with early AMD may have difficulty recognizing warning signs that are not obvious. If a patient begins to suspect that AMD or other eye disease may be present, it is recommended to visit a professional eye care practitioner immediately.
Warning signs for AMD include:
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- Higher brightness or intensity of colors
- Crooked or hazy central vision
- A blind or blurry spot in the center of the field of vision
- A need for increasingly brighter light while doing close work or reading
- Increasing blurriness when reading printed words
- Difficulty adjusting to lower light levels in dimly lit rooms
- In advanced cases, hallucinations of people or geometric shapes
A professional eye care practitioner can conduct several tests to help diagnose AMD in patients. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a genetic disease. Statics state that genetics account for more than 70 percent of a patient’s risk of developing AMD.
Other AMD diagnostic tests include:
- Macula risk test. Macula risk testing is a genetic analysis that your eye care professional can administer in the office. Macula risk testing uses a cheek swab to test for certain genes that indicate risk of AMD and associated vision loss.
- MPOD testing. MPOD stands for “macular pigment optical density.” MPOD testing is used to measure the thickness of the macular pigment. Research shows that MPOD is a biomarker, or indicator, for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
- Fundus autofluorescence. Fundus autofluorescence examines lipofuscin in the eye’s fundus. Lipofuscin is naturally fluorescent. In excess levels, it can indicate eye disease such as AMD.
- Optical coherence tomography. OCT is similar to ultrasound in that it provides images of the retina. These images can help eye care professionals detect and treat AMD.
When age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is diagnosed early, management plans can be created to help slow the progression of the disease. In many cases, early diagnosis and treatment has helped to preserve the macula and the patient’s vision. One of the main methods of treatment includes supplementation and diet changes.
Treatment for AMD can include:
- ProOmega. ProOmega is an omega-3 supplement that is believed to reduce inflammation in the eyes and the rest of the body.
- MacuHealth. This supplement contains meso-Zeaxanthin, a naturally-occurring carotenoid that helps shield retina from free radicals that can destroy the macula.
- Blu-Tech lenses. These contact lenses are designed to block harmful ultraviolet and blue light that can cause damage to the macula and retina.
- Diet changes. It is believed that a diet of only wholesome natural foods can help preserve the function of the macula and slow the development of AMD.