Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the foremost cause of vision loss among Americans who are 60 and older. AMD is not painful, so it is important to have your doctor perform a dilated eye exam regularly to catch AMD early. Warning signs of AMD include:
- Lines that appear wavy or broken – even the edges of a square table or a book cover may appear distorted
- Letters and numerals won’t come into focus
- You see a dark spot in front of one or both eyes
What is AMD? Within the macula in the back of the eye is an area that contains the highest concentration of retinal cones, which produce the sharpest vision and are required to see details clearly. AMD results in damage to these cones. It is characterized by a worsening loss of central vision due to a growing “dark spot” seen directly in front of the eye, although peripheral vision may be clear. With Wet AMD, extra blood vessels form under the retina and grow and leak, causing visual impairment. Wet AMD is the most serious form of this eye disease and may occur suddenly. With Dry AMD, vision loss is slower. Dry AMD is the more common form, accounting for 90% of cases. Neither form of AMD causes complete blindness – you will always have some peripheral vision.
What can be done if AMD is diagnosed? Treatment can slow or stop the progression of AMD and vision loss. Treatments range from site injections to laser therapy. Several prescription drugs and therapies have shown promise to slightly improve visual acuity. However, nothing yet has been developed to reverse the effects of AMD.
What devices can help? Most people with AMD use aids to retain independence in their homes. Products include electronic magnifiers and devices that turn text into speech to read aloud mail, bills, books, and other printed materials. Freedom Scientific’s line of video magnifiers and screen magnification software can help.