Age-related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, refers to the deterioration of the macula, and is the leading cause of vision loss in people over age 65. At the front of the eye sit the cornea, pupil and lens, which direct light to the back of the eye to the retina. The retina is made up of two areas, the macula, which sits at center, and the peripheral retina, which gives us our peripheral vision. “The macula is the area devoted to our central pinpoint vision,” explains Lake Eye Ophthalmologist Dr. Scot Holman. “It enables us to focus on details so we can read, perform intricate tasks, drive and recognize facial and other features. With AMD, the macula begins to deteriorate as we age, resulting in blurring, distortion or darkness in the center area of vision. You may look at a painting, for example, and see its borders clearly but find the center elements are blurred, warped or darkened. This tends to cause people to depend more on their peripheral vision than their center vision.”
There are two forms of AMD, the atrophic or “dry” form, which affects about 90% of AMD patients, and the less common exudative, or “wet” form. “The dry form of AMD describes deposits accumulating on the retinal tissues over time, interrupting their ability to function normally,” says comprehensive ophthalmologist Dr. Shelby Terpstra. In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels form in the tissues behind the macula, leaking fluids that blur and distort vision.
“AMD usually develops slowly, causing gradual sight impairment that people often ignore until it becomes truly disruptive,” says Dr. Terpstra. “This is unfortunate because, while AMD can’t be cured, it can be effectively managed, so early detection is important in helping prevent serious and permanent damage to central vision.”
“In some cases AMD develops quite rapidly and with little warning,” adds Dr. Holman, “so if we can get patients 65 and older to come in and see us every one to two years, that’s ideal. It enables us to perform a simple test for AMD and employ effective treatments to help preserve eyesight. When we’re able to discover AMD before the patient notices something is wrong, we can take measures to keep the disease at bay and help prevent vision loss altogether.”
If you’re 65 or older and haven’t seen an ophthalmologist in the past one to two years, or have noticed changes in your central vision, it’s time to get your eyes checked by a Board Certified ophthalmologist to help ensure your vision remains healthy, clear and bright through your lifetime. So don’t wait! Call Lake Eye Associates today to schedule a comprehensive eye health check-up.