Anchorage Macular Degeneration
Macular Degeneration (also called AMD, ARMD, or age-related macular degeneration)
The macula is the portion of the retina that gives us our fine-detail vision. Age-related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss in people over 60. It is considered a hereditary disease but there are many risk factors. The biggest risk factor for AMD is age. Your risk increases as you age, and the disease is most likely to occur in those 55 and older. Other risk factors include:
- Genetics - People with a family history of AMD are at a higher risk.
- Race - Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease than African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
- Smoking - Smoking doubles the risk of AMD.
Types of Macular Degeneration
There are two basic types of macular degeneration: “dry” and “wet.” Approximately 85% to 90% of macular degeneration cases are of the “dry” (atrophic) type, while 10-15% are of the “wet” (exudative) type. Dry AMD is a very slow progressive loss of fine-detail vision while with wet AMD, vision loss is often very rapid onset.
Three Stages of Age-related Macular Degeneration
- Early AMD- Most people do not experience vision loss in the early stage of AMD, which is why regular eye exams are important, particularly if you have more than one risk factor. Early AMD is diagnosed by the presence of medium-sized drusen (yellow deposits beneath the retina).
- Intermediate AMD- At this stage, there may be some vision loss, but there still may not be noticeable symptoms. A comprehensive eye exam with specific tests will look for drusen and/or pigment changes in the retina.
- Late AMD- At this stage, vision loss has become noticeable.
There is currently no known cure for macular degeneration, but there are things you can do to reduce your risk and possibly slow the progression once you’ve been diagnosed. Thus, macular degeneration treatment actually begins with routine eye exams, especially after age 60. The goal here is to catch the development of AMD early. Dr. Marcum uses the latest technology to detect AMD very early. This may often be before any signs are visible using only a high-powered lens. This technology is called optical coherence tomography or (OCT) scan. Certain vitamin supplements have been shown to be beneficial in many cases of dry AMD. Wet AMD treatment is now available with mixed results. Wet macular degeneration treatment can include a number of options, including laser surgery or drugs injected directly into the eye that inhibit the growth of abnormal blood vessels that cause the wet form of AMD. However, there are no guarantees that vision deterioration can be stopped with these treatments. Early detection and treatment is best thing you can do for your eyes.