Symptoms of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Older woman struggling to see

Are You Showing Signs of Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye condition common in older Americans, slowly damages your central and color vision. Signs and symptoms of the condition can be subtle at first and may not seem particularly alarming. Fortunately, your optometrist can spot changes in your eyes before you notice any vision problems.

What Happens if You Have AMD

AMD affects the macula, the central part of your retina. The retina, a layer of cells at the back of your eye, contains photoreceptor cells called rods and cones that transform light rays into electrical impulses. Once the impulses reach the brain, they're converted into recognizable images.

Cones, located in the center part of your field of vision, help you see colors and make good central vision possible. If AMD damages the cones, you may notice changes in the way you see the world. Two forms of AMD can cause vision problems. They include:

  • Dry AMD. A thinning macula and drusen are responsible for vision changes if you have the dry form of AMD. Drusen are white or yellow protein deposits that collect under the retina.
  • Wet AMD. Leaky blood vessels obstruct your central vision if you have the wet type of AMD. The vessels may eventually scar the macula.

Do Any of These Symptoms Sound Familiar?

AMD may not cause any noticeable symptoms at first. As the condition worsens, you may experience:

  • Blurry Central Vision. You may notice that your central vision is blurry, while your peripheral (side) vision is clear.
  • Blind Spots. Blind spots in your central vision might make it difficult to read, sew, do close work, recognize friends and family, or drive.
  • Wavy Lines. As cells in your macula deteriorate, straight lines may now appear wavy.
  • Dull Colors. Colors may look dull, or it may be difficult to tell the difference between subtle shades of colors or textures, according to Bright Focus Foundation.
  • Clumsiness. What at first glance appears to be clumsiness may actually be related to your eyesight. Poor depth perception and difficulty distinguishing textures can make it easy to miss a step or fail to see obstacles in front of you.
  • Trouble Seeing in Low Light. Everything may be darker than usual, no matter what the time of day. You may need more light to read and may notice that it takes longer for your eyes to adjust when going from a bright room to a dark one.
  • Glare. Increased glare may make it even harder to see clearly.

AMD Treatment Options

Although there isn't a medication or procedure to treat the dry form of AMD at this time, you can do a few things that may help you protect your eye health. The American Academy of Ophthalmology notes that taking a combination of nutritional supplements may slow the progression of dry AMD in some cases. The recommended supplements include:

  • Copper (2 mg)
  • Zinc (80 mg)
  • Zeaxanthin (2 mg)
  • Vitamin E (400 IU)
  • Vitamin C (500 mg)
  • Lutein (10 mg)

Improving your diet, getting more exercise, and quitting smoking may also be helpful.

If you have the wet form of AMD, your optometrist may recommend eye injections that stop unhealthy blood vessels from developing in the macula. Laser therapy, another treatment option, seals leaky vessels.

Whether you have AMD symptoms or it's time for your annual eye examination, we're here to help you care for your eyes. Contact our office to schedule your appointment.

Sources:

National Eye Institute: Age-Related Macular Degeneration, 8/17/20

American Academy of Ophthalmology: What Is Macular Degeneration?, 2/28/20

Bright Focus Foundation: Macular Degeneration: Signs & Symptoms

Foundation Fighting Blindness: What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

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