Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of adult blindness in developed countries and affects nearly 1 in 8 adults over the age of 60. Macular degeneration is a chronic, progressive disease that attacks the macula, a part of the retina that allows us to see objects located straight ahead of us. The macula is responsible for your central vision, which allows you to do things like recognize faces, read, and watch TV.
Stages of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
As a progressive disease, macular degeneration reveals itself in stages.
Subclinical Macular Degeneration
This the earliest detectable stage of macular degeneration. The first warning sign is trouble seeing at night. Many people blame poor night vision on the normal aging process and don’t report the symptom to their doctor. Don’t make that mistake. If you begin having difficulty reading in dim light or adjusting to seeing in the dark, let us know. Identifying macular degeneration at this point is critical to proactively manage the disease.
Early to Intermediate Macular Degeneration
Before we learned that trouble seeing at night is the first symptom of macular degeneration, eye care professionals relied on diagnosing the disease during the early or intermediate stages by identifying drusen – yellow fatty deposits under your retina – which is a physical indicator of macular degeneration.
Advanced Macular Degeneration
Patients notice central vision blurriness as the disease advances. The transition from early-stage to late-stage macular degeneration can happen rapidly. If left untreated, it can lead to legal blindness in as little as six months. While treatment options can slow the progression of late macular degeneration, nothing can reverse the damage already done.
Macular Degeneration Symptoms and Risk Factors
The earliest symptom of macular degeneration is difficulty seeing at night, also known as impaired dark adaptation. We can test for impaired dark adaptation using the AdaptDx®. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include distortion of straight lines or dark and blurry central vision.
The primary risk factors for macular degeneration include:
- Age 50 or older
- Family history of macular degeneration
- Caucasian (white)
- Smoker or past smoker
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol
Age is the biggest risk factor. In fact, 1 in 8 adults over the age of 60 have macular degeneration. If you are experiencing a symptom of macular degeneration or have multiple risk factors, let us know and we may test your eyes with the AdaptDx.
If you are diagnosed with macular degeneration, we have valuable time to develop a plan to delay further symptoms. Proactive steps to delay or prevent vision loss:
- Lifestyle changes, such as improved diet and exercise and smoking cessation
- Eye health supplements
- Blue light protection
- UVA and UVB protection
We will also want to monitor your vision regularly. It is very important to follow up with testing as indicated, so we may promptly intervene should complications occur. If needed, you’ll be able to begin additional treatment as soon as late-stage macular degeneration is detected.
AMD Warning Signs
About AMD, its risk factors, and first symptoms
Please use the form below to contact us directly about Macular Degeneration or call us directly at: 205.861.2020