What is age-related macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that progressively damages the macula. The macula is the central part of the retina that helps us see fine details and small things. At first, macular degeneration can appear as a distortion in vision (like when objects look bent or crooked). As the disease progresses, the central vision is lost leaving only the peripheral vision (on the sides) unaffected.

In the western world, age-related macular degeneration is very common and one of the leading causes of vision loss in people over 50 years old.

Normal vision

AMD vision

How is age-related macular degeneration diagnosed?

Early detection limits the progression of the disease and helps preserve vision. To diagnos age-related macular degeneration, a retina specialist must examine the back of the eye where the retina is located. Depending on the form (dry or wet) and the stage of the disease, you can request some additional tests to decide the best treatment.

Photo: “Normal Retina”

Photo: "Dry age related macular degeneration"

Photo: "Wet age related macular degeneration"

Risk factors for developing age-related macular degeneration:

  • brightness_1  The main risk factor is age
  • brightness_1  Smoking
  • brightness_1  Family history of Age-related macular degeneration
  • brightness_1  Of European descent
  • brightness_1  Intense exposure to UV rays
  • brightness_1  High blood pressure
  • brightness_1  Circulatory problems
  • brightness_1  Overweight
  • brightness_1  High Cholesterol
After 40, make sure to have an eye exam with a specialist at least once a year

What is the treatment for age-related macular degeneration?

Food supplements with antioxidants prescribed by a retina specialist can delay progression of this disease from an early to an advanced stage.

The dry form of age-related macular degeneration evolves slowly over several years. Many treatments are currently in pre-clinical research phases and the findings are to be released soon.

The wet form of age-related macular degeneration progresses more rapidly due to the formation of abnormal veins below the macula (causing hemorrhage and fluid accumulation). Urgent treatment is necessary to maintain or restore vision. Currently, the first line treatment is the repeated injection of therapeutic proteins better know as Anti-VEGF.

Photo: “Scanning laser oftalmoscope (SLO) of wet AMD”

Photo: “OCT scan of Wet-age related macular degeneration, Vision 20/400”

Photo: “Same patient, in treatment with Anti-VEGF (Treat and Exten with aflibercept) Vision 20/30”

AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION DOES NOT RESULT IN BLINDNESS BECAUSE ONLY THE CENTRAL VISION IS AFFECTED, BUT IT LEADS TO A DISABILITY TO READ AND RECOGNIZE FACES.
REGULAR SUPERVISION BY A SPECIALIST IS NEEDED TO DIAGNOSE AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION AND, IF NECESSARY, TREAT IT EFFECTIVELY.

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