Macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition that leads to impairment or loss of vision in the center of the eye. AMD is associated with damage to a spot in the center of the retina, known as the macula. This results in an inability to see images directly in front of you. Macular degeneration usually progresses through early, intermediate, and late stages.
AMD can come in the form of either “dry” or “wet” macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration is the more common type of degeneration and causes vision to deteriorate gradually. While the wet form of macular degeneration causes more sudden loss of vision, it is less common.
No pain accompanies the disease and there may not be any noticeable symptoms in the early stages. AMD is diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam and thorough inspection of the retina. (Just another reason to keep up routine eye doc visits).
In many cases, macular degeneration is age-related. In fact, you will often hear macular degeneration referred to as age-related macular degeneration. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in those over the age of 50 years old.
Factors outside of age that may increase your risk of macular degeneration are smoking, race, and genetics. Leading a healthier lifestyle in general with balanced diet, exercise, and regulated blood pressure and cholesterol may play a role in AMD prevention and slowing the progression of AMD.