Have you noticed blurriness in your vision and happened across this article after searching online for an eye exam near me? That’s perfectly understandable. After all, the thought of losing our sight is one of the most unimaginable things that can happen to us.
Unfortunately, it’s surprisingly more imaginable than you might think. As the population matures, macular degeneration will eventually affect 1 in 3 older adults.
Therefore, each February, the American Academy of Ophthalmology spends the month bringing awareness to Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD or ARMD), the leading cause of blindness in older Americans. During AMD Awareness Month, Campus Eye Center is doing our part to help educate patients who may have questions about AMD. We believe eye care education—combined with routine eye care—is the best strategy to prevent the process of natural macular degeneration in our patients.
In the following article, we’ll identify some of the most important questions to ask your doctor if you’re having vision problems and suspect AMD or have recently been diagnosed.
What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
AMD is what eye care professionals call the deterioration of the macula, a small area within the retina that controls your central vision. When macular degeneration begins to occur, you may notice blurry vision—or you may not have any symptoms initially.
As the dominant cause of vision loss among mature adults in the US, the number of older Americans affected with some form of the disease is expected to double, to 88 million, by the year 2050.
Are There Different Types of AMD?
Yes, there are two commonly established types of AMD. Doctors classify these types as “dry” or “wet.” Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Dry Macular Degeneration (non-neovascular)
The dry form of AMD is diagnosed when yellowish spots, called drusen, begin to accumulate around the macula. The dry form is the most frequent AMD type occurring in about 80% of people with the disease. While the dry condition is less serious overall, it has no cure.
Wet Macular Degeneration (neovascular)
While less frequently diagnosed than the dry form, the wet form of AMD is far more severe. This neovascular type occurs when abnormal blood vessels begin to grow under the retina and leak blood or other fluids. This fluid leaking causes scarring of the macula and quickly leads to noticeable vision loss, which may constitute an eye health emergency.
Are There Different Stages of AMD?
Yes. There are different stages of AMD classified by the severity of the disease. The stages are:
In the early dry stage, usually, no vision loss is detected. However, small or few medium-sized drusen, which are about the thickness of a human hair, are seen.
Individuals are at significant risk for developing advanced AMD at the intermediate dry stage. There is some or no vision loss. There is also either multiple medium-sized drusen or at least one large drusen in one or both eyes. Additionally, there are changes in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), which are cells underneath the retina that support the retina’s health.
Advanced dry (also called geographic atrophy)
With the advanced dry stage, retinal cells sensitive to light gradually break down, interfering with the eye’s ability to sense light. This breakdown, along with retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), causes vision loss. Advanced dry is sometimes referred to as geographic atrophy, a term used to describe an area in which the RPE cells have entirely died.
In the wet AMD stage, abnormal blood vessels develop underneath the retina, which can be damaging if they leak fluid or blood. This type of AMD can progress quickly, and vision loss can be sudden if there is leakage or bleeding underneath or into the retina. It’s important to point out that wet AMD is always considered an advanced stage.
What Are My Next Steps If I Have AMD or Suspect I Do?
Get in touch to schedule an eye exam with Campus Eye Center today. As one of the best eye care resources in the Lancaster, PA area, we can help you detect and manage your age-related macular degeneration or other eye diseases so that you can live better by seeing better.