The condition of our eyes is always changing, and over time it is not unlikely that our vision will decrease with age. Reading, driving and seeing with clarity become more and more difficult after years of wear and tear on the eye. One of the causes of decreased vision as we age is a disease called age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
ARMD affects a part of the eye called the macula, acentral part of the retina responsible for sharp central vision and colors. Thus, the disease can cause blurry or wavy vision and a blind spot in the center of your vision. ARMD is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss and legal blindness for individuals 50 and over, according to the
National Eye Institute (NEI).
There are two forms of ARMD. One form is dry ARMD, which has no associated blood vessel leakage. With dry ARMD, vision loss is usually gradual. Patients may see a blurred spot in the center of their vision, which will cause them to have trouble reading fine print or driving at night but can progress to major loss of vision over time. If you are diagnosed with dry ARMD, it is important to continually monitor your central vision to recognize any severe advances in vision loss. The second form of ARMD is wet ARMD. Wet ARMD is where you will find the most treatment is needed, because the loss of central vision can occur quickly. Patients with wet ARMD may experience dark spots and wavy vision accompanied by loss of central vision. If you have been diagnosed with dry or wet ARMD, the Amsler grid is a good tool to monitor any changes in your central vision between eye exams.
Like many other eye related diseases, early detection is the best treatment. It is important to schedule an annual eye examination with full dilation to detect any early signs of dry or wet ARMD. While there is no treatment for dry ARMD, the ophthalmologists at Key-Whitman Eye Center often times recommend a dietary supplement such as Ocuvite or Preservision. For more advanced wet ARMD, the ophthalmologists at Key-Whitman Eye Center may refer you to a retinal specialist for special injections or other treatments to arrest the progress of the disease.
To decrease your risk of ARMD, ophthalmologists suggest increasing your intake of anti oxidant food such as green leafy vegetables and nuts. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, vitamins lutein and zeaxanthin are said to protect the macula.
If you have seen a change in your vision or have additional questions about ARMD and vision loss, make an appointment to see one of our experienced ophthalmologists at Key-Whitman Eye Center.