Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is when a part of the retina (the macula) is damaged and usually occurs later on in life. Macular Degeneration can lead to permanent vision loss, but it doesn’t all happen suddenly. There are two types of macular degeneration we can look out for:
Type 1: Dry (Atrophic)
As we get older, our retina is at higher risk for vision loss due to deterioration of the tissue, health of blood vessels, debris, etc. This most common type, however, is due to fatty deposits (Drusen) developing on the macula. These drusen are considered a defining feature of AMD. We can classify this as a type of macular degeneration as the most common, but the least severe and can eventually progress to wet AMD.
Type 2: Wet (neovascular or exudative)
This more severe type occurs when oxygen supply is disrupted and leads to new blood vessels growing, risking the health of the macula. These abnormal blood vessels can destroy the retina, leaking blood/fluid and rapidly resulting in vision loss. It’s important to note that even though the onset of macular degeneration is more or less out of your control, monitoring the progress of your degeneration is in your best interest in order to seek out future treatment plans.
Currently, the research doesn’t explain exactly why one may contract macular degeneration, but we do know that some of these factors could contribute: family history, smoking, cardiovascular diseases/high blood pressure, inflammation, racially white, obesity/diet high in saturated fats and excessive sunlight exposure. Although these two types of macular degeneration might not be completely preventable, there are some things we can do to decrease the risk.
Tools to slow down the progression of AMD:
-Paying attention to your diet: Add in antioxidant-rich foods, vitamins, and minerals, avoiding high saturated fats, and increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts.
-Increasing use of sunglasses that blocks UVA and UVB
-Vision tools to help adapt or maximize your sight
When understanding the types of macular degeneration, you can also think of these types as stages of progression (early, intermediate, and late). When approaching the age at higher risk for AMD (50 yrs) you can start self-eye exams as well as come in for a visit with Dr. El Annan. When approaching the intermediate stages, your diet and supplementation can play an important role in slowing progression. Lastly, in the late stages of AMD, you can seek treatment options, such as Photodynamic Therapy, or anti-VEGF therapy.
11 million people in the United States alone suffer from AMD, so taking precautions early on and paying attention to any changes in vision can help in slowing down age-related macular degeneration in its tracks.
If you have celebrated your 50th birthday, you are at higher risk for a macular generation. If you are noticing any changes in vision loss, you can schedule your next visit with Dr. El Annan at the Annan Retina Eye Center. Please call 346-222-6626 to speak to a member of staff who will be more than happy to help you.