AMD Awareness Raises Questions: Age-Related Macular Degeneration

AMD Awareness Raises Questions

Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, common questions


An estimated 10 million Americans show evidence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a progressive eye condition that can destroy “straight-ahead” vision, according to Dr. Dawn Wattenhofer.


“February is AMD Awareness Month and we encourage all people, especially those at higher risk for this disease, to familiarize themselves with the potential symptoms and need for regular eye examinations,” Dr. Jared Pearson said. “To help people better understand this disease, we’ve answered a few frequently asked questions.”


Q: What is AMD and who is at risk?


A: AMD stands for age-related macular degeneration, a disease that breaks down the macula – the light-sensitive portion of the retina that allows you to see fine detail. It blurs the “straight-ahead” vision required for activities such as reading or driving. Risk factors for AMD include: smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and family history of AMD. Caucasians and females are more prone to AMD.

Q: What causes AMD and how can it be detected?


A: The causes of AMD are still unknown. One form of AMD (dry) may be caused by aging and thinning of the macular tissues, pigment deposits in the macula, or a combination of the two. The other form of AMD (wet), results when new blood vessels grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid. This leakage causes retinal cells to die and creates blind spots in central vision. Early-stage AMD can be detected through a comprehensive eye exam that includes a visual acuity test and dilated eye exam. If AMD is detected, further tests may be required.


“While there is no cure for AMD, early detection and treatment can slow or minimize vision loss and, in some cases, even improve vision,” Dr. Wattenhofer said. “There are also devices that can help people suffering from AMD-related vision loss to achieve improvement in their functional vision for performing daily routines.”


“AMD is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness in older adults,” Dr. Pearson said. “We use technology to assist in early identification and monitor macular degeneration changes. One such technology, is genetic testing called Macula Risk that can identify a genetic predisposition for AMD, predict the likelihood of progression, and identify specific supplement needs for that individual. However, the most important step one can do to slow vision loss from AMD is to be proactive with regular examinations to identify changes that have not yet begun to affect their vision.”