As we age, our eyesight can begin to deteriorate. One of the most common reasons for the decline in vision is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). More than 2.5 million Canadians over the age of 50 struggle with AMD.
Though there is no cure for AMD, there are many successful treatment options to help lessen symptoms and improve visual comfort. The first step to understanding how AMD affects your vision and is diagnosed, as well as knowing which type of AMD you have.
Let’s look at the different types of AMD and the best symptom treatment options for you.
What is AMD?
AMD is often diagnosed too late because patients dismiss the symptoms as a sign of getting older. This eye disease is irreversible and causes you to lose your central vision, which is controlled by the macula at the back of your eye.
Some very distinct identifiers can help patients recognize the symptoms of AMD sooner:
● Reduced central vision
● Distorted straight lines
● Increased reliance on bright light to see
● Blurred vision
● Difficulty seeing in low light
Many of these symptoms are similar to regular vision loss and should be discussed with our optometrists in Belleville, Kanata, and our other locations across Ontario right away.
How is AMD diagnosed?
Your eye doctor will carry out a comprehensive eye exam to determine if you have AMD and whether you have wet or dry AMD.
An Amsler test will help determine your level of vision clarity. For example, patients with AMD will have trouble with distortion and fading when looking at the grid pattern on the test.
Your eye doctor will test the health of your blood vessels using special tests.
Dry Macular Degeneration
In addition to having many symptoms, AMD also has two distinct subgroups, wet macular degeneration, and dry macular degeneration. Most patients will experience dry macular degeneration. This is caused when the cells of the macula break down and die off over the course of several years.
Patients often benefit from taking AMD-specific vitamins to help improve vision quality and eye health. Patients can also experience significant improvement by changing their diet to include more Omega-3 and vitamin-rich leafy greens.
It is also recommended to take steps to improve overall health such as quitting smoking and reducing weight and blood pressure.
Dry AMD can progress over time into wet AMD as damage to the eye continues if left untreated.
Wet Macular Degeneration
Wet AMD is a more severe form of this eye disease. It develops when the blood vessels in the eye begin to break and leak blood and fluid into the macula. Over time this can lead to significant vision impairment and even blindness.
Wet AMD requires more significant intervention to help slow the progression of vision loss. After your eye exam at one of our locations, we will refer you to a specialist who will be able to advise appropriate treatment for you.
Patients may benefit from anti-vascular endothelial growth factor medications for their eyes. These are usually administered monthly using a syringe to help reduce blood vessel growth. It can also help reduce swelling in the retina.
In addition to diet changes and supplements, there are several emerging treatment options to help reduce the effects of AMD.
This treatment method can provide relief to people with AMD by injecting verteporfin into the arm. The medication travels through the veins to the eye where the doctor then uses a laser to activate the drug, preventing leakage in the blood vessels. Patients who receive this treatment should avoid exposure to bright lights as the drug works its way out of the body.
Another popular laser therapy is photocoagulation. Your eye doctor will use a high-energy laser beam to close leaking vessels under the macula. This treatment is best for people with Dry AMD.
Low vision rehabilitation
AMD can significantly impact your central vision. Therefore, many eye doctors will recommend low vision rehabilitation to improve your level of adaptation to reduced central vision.
Your optometrist may also be able to help connect you with additional vision improvement resources such as magnifiers to improve your quality of life.
Patients will usually experience moderate improvement in their vision, allowing them to carry out day-to-day tasks with greater ease and comfort.
Contact us for an eye exam
If you are experiencing symptoms of AMD and wondering ‘where can I locate an optometrist near me?’, look no further than our stores to arrange an appointment. We can provide you with a comprehensive check up, including OHIP eye exams for those eligible, so feel free to contact us today to book your appointment.