Macular degeneration, or AMD, is an insidious eye disease that mainly affects the senior population, although there are early signs of the disease if you are predisposed to it.
Macular degeneration can be hereditary in some cases or just the unfortunate condition that many people can get if they live long enough. It may start out with aging spots found in the retina that can be discovered during a dilated eye exam. That may be the start of the eye disease or not, which is why the aging spots must be watched carefully.
Living a healthy lifestyle of limited sun and UV exposure, and eating a healthy diet of green leafy vegetables, are ways to help prevent AMD.
Macular degeneration affects the center of vision called the macula, which is responsible for the fine reading and fine tasks one needs to perform.
The peripheral vision stays intact, so you will always have your “walking around” vision but it can make reading challenging and driving impossible.
There are two types: wet and dry. The dry type can only be treated with antioxidant vitamins, but the wet type that creates leaking and swelling areas in the retina, can be treated with injections into the eye. This is an in-office procedure done in a very sterile environment and is relatively painless because of topical numbing solutions.
There also are devices on the market that can help manage your lifestyle, along with services from “low vision clinics” that very often are covered by insurance.
The best way to combat acquiring the disease is having regular eye exams and leading a healthy lifestyle. If caught early, you have the best chance for treatment.
Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.