Vision changes are a normal part of aging. Most people find themselves reaching for reading glasses once they hit their 40s. Sometimes, other more serious age-related vision problems, such as macular degeneration, develop and cause concern.
Part of living a quality life with AMD is knowing the symptoms .“The most notable symptoms of age-related macular degeneration are vision distortion and blurry vision,” explained Michael E. Somers, MD, an ophthalmologist with Somers Eye Center on the NKCH campus. “For example, when you look at a building, one eye may see straight lines while the other sees wavy lines. Or, an object may appear larger to one eye than the other.”
Wet and Dry AMD
There are two types of AMD: wet and dry. Dry macular degeneration makes up about 90% of cases. It’s caused by yellow deposits, called drusen, in the macular. With age, drusen can grow in size and number, leading to a slow and gradual decrease in vision.
Dry AMD can lead to wet AMD, which is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula. These blood vessels leak blood and other fluid into the retina, causing serious, often sudden, vision loss.
Slow the Progression
While AMD can’t be cured, a few lifestyle changes can help keep it from progressing quickly. Dr. Somers suggests:
- Eating healthy
- Not smoking
- Taking a multivitamin with lutein
- Wearing sunglasses outside
- An annual eye exam, especially if you are 60 years of age or older
Living Well with AMD
“For dry macular degeneration, I recommend taking an eye vitamin with lutein, combined with lifestyle changes,” Dr. Somers advised. “For wet macular degeneration, I typically refer patients to a retina specialist, who has the training and expertise to assess the extent of the bleeding.” Often, eye injections can help. They cause blood vessels to regress without causing retinal damage.
“Macular degeneration won’t cause you to become totally blind,” Dr. Somers said. “You always have your peripheral, or side, vision, which can help you navigate. My goal is to preserve your central vision as much as possible so you can continue living independently,” Dr. Somers added.