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Boulder Eye Care & Surgery Center Doctors AMD 300x188 - Understanding Age-Related Macular DegenerationAge-related macular degeneration (AMD) most often strikes people 60 years of age or older.  This progressive eye disorder makes it difficult to see details, as it slowly destroys a person’s central vision.

Two Types of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

AMD patients suffer from one of two types of this chronic disorder:

  • Dry AMD is the more common form.  It occurs when the macula – located in the center of the retina – deteriorates.  Over time, it can cause the quality of life to deteriorate when central vision becomes blurred or patients develop a blind spot in the center of the visual field.
  • Wet AMD generally occurs when abnormal blood vessels leak blood or other fluid into the macula.  This form nearly always starts as the dry type.  Early detection and treatment by an eye care professional are crucial in helping cut the amount of vision loss and improving vision in some patients.

Causes and Symptoms

As people age, it becomes more difficult to move nutrients and waste to and from the macula.  When waste accumulates, cells become damaged and ultimately affect one’s vision.  Individuals with these characteristics face the highest risk for developing AMD:

  • Being older than 60
  • Being female
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Having heart disease
  • Possessing light-pigmented colored eyes
  • Suffering from high cholesterol
  • Experiencing long-term sunlight exposure
  • Having low antioxidant levels in the blood
  • Possessing high belly fat

Patients with dry AMD might notice an increasing need for light in order to complete tasks that are closer in distance.  While one is reading, the print may appear blurred.  Colors could appear less bright than they used to and vision may seem hazy.  A blurred spot in the center of the visual field could appear and could also gradually get darker and bigger.

A hallmark sign of wet AMD is the appearance that straight lines now appear wavy.  Some objects might look smaller or further away than they did previously.  Sometimes patients experience a loss of central vision or a sudden blind spot.

Treatment Options For Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Fortunately, patients with macular degeneration have a number of treatment options, and we can help by scheduling an appointment with one of our retina specialists in Boulder.  For dry AMD, a 10-year study suggested that taking specific antioxidants and zinc plus boosting the level of antioxidants in the diet can slow advancement of the condition.  Controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol is a key factor in avoidance, and avoiding cigarette smoke is also important.

Two recent drugs injected into the eye have proven effective for controlling wet AMD.  Severe AMD can result in legal blindness.  For patients with partial blindness, our eye care professionals can help by recommending low-vision aids.