Age Related Macular Degeneration – Part 1

A common question often asked during eye examinations is “what is macular degeneration and am I at risk for this disease?”  Macular degeneration is usually referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) because it’s occurrence increases with age.  AMD is the leading cause of blindness in patients older than 60.  Blindness is a very scary word to use.  In AMD, patients lose clarity in central vision.  Peripheral vision remains intact and unaffected.  Peripheral vision is very important in mobility and balance.  AMD affects the macula, the part of the retina that provides our central vision and color vision, causing it to deteriorate.  Symptoms of AMD can present as blurry central vision, a dark spot in the center of vision, difficulty recognizing faces, and when straight lines (like door frames) appear wavy.   Risk factors include your age, family history, race (high incidence in Caucasians), and some studies have shown women are more likely to have AMD than men.  There has been an association with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and smoking with AMD. 

Stay tuned for AMD Part II, in which we will discuss the types of AMD and treatments.    Author:  Dr. Nikki Kokel, Optometrist

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