How Do We Diagnose It?
In early stages, AMD is symptom free but can be diagnosed in a routine Comprehensive Eye Exam. Initially, patients will typically report blurred central vision while trying to see fine detail. Glasses or contacts are unable to correct this and overtime the area may become larger interfering with reading and recognizing faces. AMD can also cause distortion making straight lines appear wavy and dark spots can obscure parts of the central vision. There is no pain associated with AMD.
When AMD is present, we take digital fundus photographs of the macula to monitor and, when necessary, we will use an OCT (Optical Coherence Tomographer), which will detect more subtle changes. These tests will also tell us if/when wet AMD is starting.
How Do We Treat It?
Most treatments for “dry” AMD are lifestyle changes such as exercise, discontinuing smoking, wearing sunglasses to reduce UV radiation and Vitamin Supplements made specifically for ocular health.
Cases of wet AMD can be treated with a medication which is injected into the eye in an attempt to stop blood vessels from leaking and also to reduce the eyes ability to build new blood vessels (which can result in more leakage and scarring).
It is extremely important to intervene with wet AMD as soon as possible in order to retain vision. Regular eye examinations and counselling from your Doctor of Optometry will let you know when new treatments become available.
Can It Be Prevented?
As is the case with most Eye Diseases, UV protection and nutrition are critical for prevention. Lack of UV protection and poor nutrition result in free radicals which damage receptor function. Again, cigarette smoking is very harmful. A balanced diet with emphasis on antioxidants like beta carotene and lutein, along with omega 3 fatty acids can help to prevent or stop the progression of, and in some instances mildly reverse the condition. Ocular vitamins can also help stop or reduce further degeneration.