Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the eye diseases you may encounter as you get older. It is a slowly progressing disease that may affect your vision before you experience any other symptoms. Here are the facts about AMD and how to prevent it from stealing away your vision.
Two Forms of AMD
With both types of AMD, your retina can be damaged so it no longer responds to light. The result is partial or total blindness. Your ophthalmologist will determine which form is present and recommend the appropriate treatment to prevent further vision loss.
Wet AMD - With this form of AMD, tiny, weak blood vessels form on the back of the eye where the retina is located. These vessels allow fluid to leak out of them onto the surface of the retina. As the fluid collects, it blocks the light, causing your vision to become blurry.
Dry AMD - Dry, yellow deposits form on the retina with this form of AMD. They often collect over the central portion of the back of your eye called the macula. As the deposits become thicker, dark spots will appear in the middle of your vision. When the amount of dry material becomes severe, you'll lose all of your central vision.
Treatment of AMD
There is no cure for this eye disease. Any damage done to your eyesight by this disease can't be reversed. The goal of treatment is to prevent further loss of vision. The type of treatment depends on the form of AMD that you are diagnosed with.
Wet AMD Treatment
Stopping new blood vessel growth - To prevent the growth of these weak blood vessels in the eye, a medication can be injected directly into the eye. You may need to have regular injections to stop these blood vessels from developing.
Removing existing weakened blood vessels - A medication can be injected into your bloodstream that makes its way into the eye. Your doctor then shines a special light into your eye which activates the chemical. The chemical makes the weak blood vessels shrink and dry up. You may need to have this treatment done periodically to prevent further vision loss.
Laser surgery - A tiny laser focuses a beam of light on the weak vessels to dry them up. Your body then absorbs the damaged blood vessels.
Dry AMD Treatment
Treating dry AMD is more difficult since there is no specific target for treatment.
Diet changes - Foods rich in the vitamins A, C, and E and the minerals copper and zinc can slow down the development of the dry patches on the back of your eye.
Laser surgery - A tiny laser can be used to clear away some of the dry patches on the retina. There is a risk of developing wet AMD when this treatment is used, however.
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