What is age-related macular degeneration?

What is age-related macular degeneration?
April 5, 2019
James Ashford

In the United States, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of visual impairment and irreversible vision loss. It is one of the most common causes of poor vision or vision loss in people over the age of 60.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a deterioration of the central part of the retina (the macula), resulting in the loss of central vision. The macula is part of the retina at the back of the eye, where there is a high concentration of photoreceptor cells. The macula itself is only about 5mm across but is responsible for all of our central vision, a large part of our color vision, and our ability to see fine detail.

You can imagine why the loss of this central part of your vision would be devastating (and lead to blind spots right in the middle of your vision).

There are two types of age-related macular degeneration: wet and dry.

Wet AMD

Wet AMD is less common (approximately 1 in 10 people have this type), but is, unfortunately, a more serious form of age-related macular degeneration.

In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow in a layer beneath the retina, leaking fluid and blood in the macula (which in turn destroys macular cells), resulting in vision distortion, or blind spots in the center of a person’s vision.

Dry AMD

The remaining suffer from AMD have the dry form of the condition, where there is a thinning of the macula, and subsequent poor central vision.

Detection

Your optometrist can often detect early signs of macular degeneration through a retinal exam before you notice any symptoms — that’s why yearly eye exams are so important. If macular degeneration is suspected, your optometrist will conduct a brief test using an Amsler grid, which measures your central vision.

The reason early detection is key?

Treatment.

Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can lead to rapid vision loss (even a few days), which means that early detection and subsequent treatment is time-sensitive.

Wet AMD treatment

The two main treatments available for wet AMD are anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injections, and photodynamic therapy (PDT).

For those patients whose blood vessels are growing directly under the macula, anti-VEGF injections can help preserve vision in about 95% of patients, and even restore or partially restore vision in 40% of patients. This makes the outcome far more hopeful for many sufferers of wet AMD, given the severity of the condition.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT), is also used sometimes. In PDT, a light-sensitive medicine is injected into the bloodstream. It works by collecting in the abnormal blood vessels under the macula. Then, laser light is shone into the eye, activating the medicine so that it can create blood clots to block the abnormal blood vessels.

If the blood vessels are not growing directly beneath the macula, laser surgery is the treatment of choice. While it does not improve vision, it is nonetheless able to prevent additional vision loss.

Dry AMD treatment

Presently, there is no treatment for dry AMD; however, it is believed that a specific, high-dose regimen of nutritional supplements can help delay or prevent further degeneration.

Prevention

While macular degeneration is associated with factors you cannot control like aging, heredity, and eye color, you can still take some preventative measures. Healthy lifestyle choices like the following can help reduce your risk or slow the progression of the disease:

  • Avoiding smoking
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining normal blood pressure
  • Eating a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables, as well as fish

Have you had any vision problems creep up? Don’t risk the wait.

Image Source

[formlift id=”659″]

Not sure where to get started with recommending self-funded plans? Vision Care Direct of Oklahoma is pre-paid plan provider with and extensive of specialists who deliver eye care in Tulsa and nationwide with excellent value for employers and plan recipients.

Find out more about our self-funded plans and other flexible options.

GET LASIK DISCOUNT

Learn about benefits of LASIK for Vision Care Direct of Oklahoma members.

Let's Talk About You

Let us know if you have any questions or if you’d like to chat.

Popular blog posts

Top 5 KPIs to Track When Assessing Plan Performance and Satisfaction

Top 5 KPIs to Track When Assessing Plan Performance and Satisfaction

As a broker, you need to maintain a diverse product portfolio so you can help companies build packages adapted to their needs and budgets. Tracking these 5 key performance indicators when comparing plans will help you better identify the ones that are more likely to...

How to Get Discounts on Frames and Discontinued Lines

How to Get Discounts on Frames and Discontinued Lines

Eyewear and contact lenses are vital to the optometry field. Keeping this in mind, doctors should be aware of the purchase costs of these goods to boost their revenue. Frame reps make commissions on sales, so they’re incentivized to sell as much as possible, but are...

Designing a Modern Optometry Practice

Designing a Modern Optometry Practice

One question that optometrists should consider is, “When patients walk into your optometry office, how do you want them to feel?” Naturally, patients desire comfortable, welcoming, and modern environments, as these characteristics put them at ease. Therefore,...

November 2022: Native American Heritage Month

November 2022: Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month celebrates a rich culture and educates people about issues unique to the Native American community. It’s an opportunity to draw attention to health issues that disproportionately affect Native Americans. It’s a group that is at higher...

Top 3 Reasons to Work with Smaller Plan Providers

Top 3 Reasons to Work with Smaller Plan Providers

In the healthcare benefits industry, brokers are essential in helping small businesses find plans. Smaller companies might not have the resources or experience to do thorough research into the options available. Fortunately, there are brokers who understand that...

3 Signs It’s Time to Review and Upgrade Your Benefits Package

3 Signs It’s Time to Review and Upgrade Your Benefits Package

A routine inventory of your benefits package can tell you where you may be able to reduce spending and, equally importantly, can also ensure that it continues to meet the needs of employees. That’s why Vision Care Direct of Oklahoma recommends reviewing your benefits...

October 2022: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 2022: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You might be wondering about the link with vision health. The truth is that a simple eye exam can sometimes detect early signs of cancer. Breast cancer can result in metastasis. When cancer cells break away from the main tumor, they...

Understanding the Ins and Outs of the Vision Plans You Accept

Understanding the Ins and Outs of the Vision Plans You Accept

For eye doctors in Tulsa OK, as well as other states, a regular review of the plans you’re currently accepting, and their ins and outs, is something you should be doing. By understanding the vision plans you accept, you can better identify how you are paid and the...

Top Strategies for Helping Plan Providers Meet Their Goals

Top Strategies for Helping Plan Providers Meet Their Goals

When trying to reduce healthcare spending, employers who offer employee benefits in the state of Oklahoma, as well as anywhere else, should be aware of one fact: there are options available that don’t increase the costs to employees via high deductibles. As a broker,...

Rethinking How You Offer Value Part 3: Build Digital Connections

Rethinking How You Offer Value Part 3: Build Digital Connections

The pandemic has sped up the digital transformation. Many professionals are embracing the virtual world because they realize connections matter. We've been sharing tips about how to rethink the way you offer value as a broker who offers plans accepted by an...

eGuide: Top 10 Ways Vision Care Direct Makes a Broker’s Job Easier

eGuide: Top 10 Ways Vision Care Direct Makes a Broker’s Job Easier

Top 10 Ways eGuide - Vision Care Direct Makes a Broker’s Job EasierOur eGuide is chocked full of ways Vision Care Direct can simplify working with a vision plan.  When you quote a vision plan certainly you are looking at the price and size of the network, and so is...

Search blog posts