Did you know that an estimated 19.83 million Americans are living with some form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD)? While this statistic might sound frightening, the good news is that understanding more about the signs and causes of AMD, as well as the available treatments, can help you protect your vision long-term.
Even though dry macular degeneration is the most common form of the disease (associated with around 90% of cases), our ophthalmology team in Sarasota are well-versed in detecting AMD and treating any associated complications.
If you suspect you have AMD, seeing a retina specialist as soon as possible is the best way to ensure the widest range of treatment options. Early detection is often your best defense against eye disease, which is why our ophthalmologists are here to offer their advice.
Because the retina is such a delicate and sensitive part of your eye, damage from injuries or other health conditions is not uncommon. That said, the natural aging process is usually what puts your retina at the highest risk of complications.
Sarasota ophthalmologists explain which part of the eye is affected by AMD
AMD affects a part of the eye called the macula. In short, the macula makes up part of the retina (a light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of your eye). Responsible for your central vision, your macula helps you define details and see objects in front of you.
However, macular degeneration isn’t the only condition that can impact your macula. Some other macular conditions your ophthalmologist will be familiar with include:
- Macular pucker
- Macular hole
- Macular dystrophy
Because the retina is such a delicate and sensitive part of your eye, damage from injuries or other health conditions is not uncommon. That said, it is usually the natural aging process that puts your retina at higher risk of complications.
What are the two types of age-related macular degeneration?
Before treatment options for AMD can be discussed, your retina specialist will first need to investigate which form of AMD you have. At our eye clinics in Florida, our retina specialists use a combination of the latest equipment and their high levels of experience to ensure your type of AMD is diagnosed correctly and efficiently.
AMD can be divided into two categories. They are:
- Dry AMD
- Wet AMD
In line with national averages, dry AMD is the most common form of AMD that our Sarasota ophthalmologists observe in patients.
Usually associated with small bumps in your retina called ‘drusen’, these bumps or yellow deposits can gradually damage your retina over time. While dry AMD is not generally associated with complete vision loss, it is vital that the condition is treated as soon as possible.
As with most eye and retinal diseases, your vision can significantly impact your quality of life. This is why our ophthalmology team recommends regular appointments at our clinic and will always encourage you to seek immediate advice as soon as you notice any change in your vision.
Around 10-15 percent of people with dry AMD will go on to develop wet AMD. With regular visits to retina clinics such as ours in Sarasota, an ophthalmologist will likely detect your condition before it reaches this stage.
In the case of wet AMD, new blood vessels begin to form in your macula. These blood vessels can then leak fluid into the retina, causing severe complications for your vision. If left untreated, this fluid can even form scars and lead to a risk of permanent central vision loss.
The symptoms of wet AMD are largely similar to dry AMD but can present more severely and cause rapid vision loss if not caught in time. The good news is that even if you are diagnosed with wet AMD, there are still treatment options available — something we’ll discuss a little later.
What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?
Early dry AMD can often present no symptoms. This is why regular checkups with an ophthalmologist are so important (especially as we age!). However, some of the most common symptoms our retina specialists record in later-stage dry AMD and wet AMD patients include:
- Dark spots in vision
- Visual distortions (e.g. straight lines appearing bent or words)
- Reduced central vision in one or both eyes
- Colors appearing faded
- Difficulty adjusting to changes in light
- The need for brighter light when focusing on details
- Difficulty reading (sometimes words appear to vanish)
- Difficulty recognizing faces
What causes AMD?
Unfortunately, there is no one cause for AMD — making it difficult to know exactly what might lead you to develop the condition. However, the biggest risk factor for patients is of course age.
As we age, our retina tends to deteriorate naturally and become more susceptible to damage or disease. This is why from the age of 40, it’s recommended that you get a baseline eye exam and follow up this exam with regular visits to a retina specialist.
Some other risk factors associated with macular degeneration include:
- Family history of AMD
- Diet (often diets high in fat or low in omega 3 and 6, vitamins, carotenoids, and minerals)
- Not regularly visiting an eye doctor
Overall, the best way to maintain your eye health and reduce your risk of developing eye-related conditions is to treat it in the same way you do other aspects of your health.
In caring for your body more effectively, you can reduce your risk of developing diseases and ensure that your body is in the best possible position to respond to treatment.
How our retina care consultants in Florida can treat AMD
Even though there is currently no cure for age-related macular degeneration, there have been significant breakthroughs in recent years. These breakthroughs provide hope that a future without severe cases of AMD might be possible.
In the meantime, you’ll be glad to hear that with qualifications in both medical and surgical eye treatment, our Sarasota and Venice eye clinics offer treatment options for both forms of AMD.
For wet AMD, our ophthalmologists might recommend eye injections as an effective form
of treatment. This involves anti-VEGF medicines being injected directly into the eye.
Patients will often require these injections over longer periods of time but your retina specialist will be able to advise further on the best treatment plan for you.
For dry AMD, treatment plans often focus on slowing down the development of the condition. To do this, eye vitamins can be taken twice daily alongside a long-term treatment plan.
In general, a change in lifestyle is also recommended for slowing the progression of dry AMD. With diet and regular checkups with a retina specialist a key focus of your treatment plan, you can manage your condition more effectively.
How to contact Retina Care Consultants, Sarasota
It takes an average of 10 years to lose vision with AMD. However, with early diagnosis and treatment, our ophthalmologists in Sarasota can get to work on protecting your vision long before this point.
To book an appointment at our Sarasota eye clinic, you can contact our team who’ll be happy to help!