Understanding How Your Age-Related Macular Degeneration Affects Your Vision And The Available Treatments

Posted on: 11 April 2016

You've begun seeing shadows across your vision. The ophthalmologist says you have early signs of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. There is no cure for this eye disease, but with early detection and treatment, the progression of vision loss can be slowed down. Here is how AMD affects your vision and the various forms of treatment available to keep it from robbing you of your eyesight.

Two Forms of AMD

There are two types of AMD and they both affect the retina. When the damage is severe, you can face partial or complete blindness. The cause of AMD is unknown, so the treatment is focused on minimizing the impact on your vision. The type of treatment your eye doctor recommends depends on which of the following forms of AMD you have.

Wet AMD - Small blood vessels with weak walls develop on the surface of the retina. These weak blood vessels allow fluid to leak out onto the retina. As the fluid accumulates, it blocks light from getting to the retina. Your vision becomes blurry and you'll need increasingly more light to read.

Dry AMD - Dry, yellow deposits form at the center of the retina. This area is called the macula and is responsible for your central vision. As the buildup of the dry material increases, you'll begin to see dark spots in the center of your vision. Eventually, you can lose your central vision entirely.

Treating Wet AMD

Medication - A medication can be injected in the eye that prevents the development of the tiny, weak blood vessels. Existing blood vessels will shrink and your eye will absorb the tissue and fluid in them. You'll need periodic injections to keep these blood vessels from forming.

Another type of medication can be injected into your blood stream. This medication travels to the eye and into those weak blood vessels. Your eye doctor then shines a special light in your eye which activates the medication. The weak blood vessels shrink and the tissue is eventually absorbed by the eye.

Laser surgery - A small laser is used to heat up and destroy the weak blood vessels. Some of the wet spots on the retina can also be cleared up with this treatment.

Treating Dry AMD

This form of AMD is harder to treat. In some cases, treatment can lead to the development of wet AMD.

Vitamin therapy - Certain vitamins can limit the creation of the dry deposits on the retina. A diet high in the vitamins A, C and E and the minerals copper and zinc can slow down dry AMD.

Laser surgery - A laser can be used to clear up some of the dry material on the retina. This treatment does carry the risk that you'll develop wet AMD.

To learn more about AMD and your treatment options, speak to an eye doctor like those at Valentine Eye Care.