Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a condition where the center of your field of vision—but not your peripheral vision—becomes damaged over time. It’s a progressive process that starts with blurriness and ends with a darkened patch smack in the middle of what you are seeing. The center area of vision is considered to be where all the action is: your ability to recognize faces, to read, to see close up, and so on. It can be a distressing diagnosis that sneaks up on you, so prevention is critical to preserving your vision as you age.
AMD is the leading cause of vision loss for people over the age of 50 in America, with 11 million affected. Alarmingly, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says that nearly 3 million Americans over the age of 40 have developed the condition.
Types of AMD
There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. Dry AMD accounts for 85-to-90 percent of cases, making it the more common diagnosis of the two. With dry AMD—also called atrophic AMD—the macula thins out over time and typically progresses in one or both eyes over three stages: early, intermediate, and late. As with most things, the earlier you catch the problem, the better your chances of arresting the progression. With late-stage dry AMD, there is no treatment available.
Wet AMD—also known as advanced neovascular AMD—is the lesser common of the two and is always late stage. Dry AMD can turn into wet AMD. Since it involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels that damage the macula rather than a thinning of it, there are treatment options available.
To slow the progression of AMD, a healthy lifestyle is critical: no smoking, getting plenty of exercise, eating green, leafy vegetables, and maintaining normal blood pressure levels will go a long way toward keeping your vision healthy, too.
For more information, please check out these online resources: