Identifying Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Read on to learn about the symptoms and causes of AMD.
Age-related macular degeneration is a condition that keeps you from viewing what's directly in front of you. It often makes it difficult to read, view photos and watch television. According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the severity of this problem can range from distorted and blurry sights, to a large black patch over your central vision. This condition does not lead to legal blindness.
While AMD doesn't cause pain, the symptoms can still be discomforting. The signs generally vary from person to person and can develop at different times, but the NHS says that each person living with AMD will experience the following:
- Blurred central vision – You can no longer focus on what's right in front of you.
- Lost visual acuity – You won't be able to see fine details, which makes reading and performing other daily tasks such as driving or using a computer more difficult.
- Lost contrast sensitivity – You'll find it complicated to tell the difference between faces against backgrounds.
- Visual distortion – Images, written words and details in faces become hard to distinguish.
There are two types of age-related macular degeneration – Dry AMD and Wet AMD.
- Dry AMD – When you have Dry AMD, it could take anywhere from five to 10 years before your life is affected by vision loss. At first, you may only experience the symptoms through one eye, so the healthy one can compensate for the blurry vision.
- Wet AMD – This type tends to develop in people who have already experienced Dry AMD. With Wet AMD, your impaired vision worsens suddenly and may even cause different symptoms, such as visual distortions, blind spots and hallucinations.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown. However, there are a number of uncontrollable factors that could influence your likelihood of experiencing AMD, such as age, gender and genes. Certain lifestyle choices could also increase your risk. Those include:
- Overexposure to sunlight – Not wearing sunglasses can increase your chance of developing AMD. That's why it's crucial to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays whenever you spend time outdoors.
- Smoking – According to the NHS, smokers may be up to four times more likely to develop AMD as opposed to non-smokers.
- Eating a poor diet – Eating foods with little to no nutritional value doesn't benefit your body. By consuming a diet that's rich in vitamins and minerals – preferably zinc and vitamins A and C, you can lower your risk for AMD.
If you've recently experienced problems in your vision and worry that you might be developing age-related macular degeneration, see your optician. They will be able to check for AMD and suggest possible treatment such as medication or photodynamic therapy.
At Gracewell Healthcare, we provide individual care for residents who live with a wide range of conditions, including AMD. For more information, contact us today.