Vision is an essential factor in experiencing the world around you. Unfortunately for those suffering from macular degeneration, the ability to see clearly can be greatly compromised. One type of macular degeneration, known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), exclusively affects those individuals of advancing age.
Understanding Age Related Macular Degeneration
AMD occurs due to the natural aging process of the eyes, and as a result is a common cause of sight loss for people aged 60 and older. AMD is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in Canada. For some of those afflicted, the onset of AMD can be a drawn out process. In this event, sufferers may not even realize their sight is decreasing until a significant loss in vision occurs. For others AMD strikes quickly, sometimes even depriving vision in both eyes.
Dry vs. Wet AMD
AMD comes in two formations, dry and wet. Dry AMD is far more common, and results from the gradual degradation of cells within the macula, which is the portion of the eye that allows finer detail to be visible. Dry AMD causes blurriness that usually appears in the center of the eye and increases until full loss of vision is experienced. There are usually three stages associated with dry AMD; these are early, intermediate, and advanced.
With wet AMD, vision loss is caused by abnormal blood vessels behind the retina increasing at an accelerated rate. These vessels are responsible for leaking fluid into the macula, which then causes irreversible damage. As a result, wet AMD can cause vision loss to occur rapidly. The onset of wet AMD can be identified by straight lines suddenly appearing wavy, in addition to other significant changes in vision.
While every case is different, the following factors can result in increased risk for developing AMD:
- Racial makeup (Caucasians are more likely to develop this disease)
- Being overweight/obese
- A history of AMD in one’s family
- Gender (with the risk of developing AMD greater for women than men)
How Can You Reduce Your Risk?
While some instances of AMD are unavoidable, implementing healthy habits can have quite an impact. This entails weight maintenance through diet and exercise, while also refraining from smoking. You should also be mindful of those habits that prevent high blood pressure from occurring.