AMD Awareness Month: Symptoms & Treatment Guide

February marks age-related macular degeneration (AMD) awareness month, a condition that affects over 600,000 people in the UK – but this figure is projected to double by 2050 according to a study by Fight For Sight. Optical Revolution is shedding some light on the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for AMD and the low vision that accompanies the condition.

What is age related macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration is an eye condition that primarily affects older adults. and consequently, it is a leading cause of vision loss in people aged 50 and over. There are two types of AMD to be aware of:

Wet AMD

In cases of wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels form in the eye, and they leak protein and lipids into the eye tissue. Treatment is always required in wet AMD cases, as if it isn’t managed, it can lead to potential permanent loss of vision.

Dry AMD

The blood vessels that characterise dry AMD are not present in dry AMD. The latter is more common and less severe.

What are some of the most common AMD symptoms?

The following indicators of AMD usually manifest gradually, and they include:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Difficulty recognising other people’s faces
  • Difficulty with vision while reading, driving, or watching TV
  • Seeing objects appear smaller than usual
  • Colours seeming less bright than they once did
  • Experiencing hallucinations
  • Seeing straight lines as wavy or crooked in appearance

AMD can present in one eye, or in both, and it doesn’t change the physical appearance of the eye. For patients experiencing any of the above, our team of opticians would always suggest checking your symptoms with your local GP or healthcare provider. This is partly due to the fact that AMD shares symptoms with a series of other eye conditions.

Can eye tests provide AMD detection?

Being proactive when it comes to eye health is always advisable, and in some instances, doing so can help opticians to detect early signs of AMD. While it’s not always possible during a routine check up due to equipment limitations, our 3D OCT eye scan is able to register some key signs that the condition is present – up to 8 years before regular tests.

If we suspect that you could be experiencing AMD, we’ll ask you a series of questions about your lifestyle, and an experienced optometrist will closely examine the eye/s affected with a magnifying glass and a light. From here, some patients will be referred to an Opthamplogist (an eye specialist) to begin treatment.

What are the treatment choices for AMD?

In order to choose the most effective treatment to manage the AMD symptoms present, an eye health specialist will need to determine which type of the condition is present, as there are two:

Wet AMD treatment

In cases of wet AMD, patients can be prescribed regular eye injections, administered in a community care setting or hospital. Occasionally, photodynamic therapy is used to limit the impact that the condition has on your sight.

Treatment for Dry AMD

There’s no treatment option for dry AMD, but vision aids can be used to manage the symptoms in day-to-day life.

 

Can lifestyle choices impact those affected by AMD?

Making any kind of positive lifestyle change is a step towards improving your general health, and it’s also a choice that can improve the way you’re affected by AMD if you do have the condition. Some factors to bear in mind to contribute towards slowing the progression of AMD include:

Stop smoking – Smoking has a proven positive correlation in cases of AMD, with one study concluding that smokers are five times more likely to develop the condition. Smoking affects your respiratory system, blood circulation, and lutein production – the latter is an antioxidant that protects the retina. A reduction in this protective component makes your retina more susceptible to the kind of damage that is associated with AMD.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet – Staying on the topic of antioxidants, fuelling our bodies with plenty of minerals and nutrients is another proactive step that we can take in reducing the impact or likelihood of AMD. The best kind of produce to stock up on for this would be leafy greens such as spinach or kale, and for protein, any kind of fatty fish with a high Omega 3 content will be ideal. Avoiding eating too much processed food or saturated fat is also helpful, as these options lead to high cholesterol and in turn, reduced circulation.

Invest in high quality, UV protective sunglasses – Sunlight causes direct damage to the retina from over-exposure without protection, due to its harmful UV rays. A high quality pair of sunglasses are an essential on brighter days (and even under cloud coverage!) in order to preserve the health of the retina.

This AMD awareness month, Optical Revolution is underlining the importance of getting familiar with your own eye health. By booking regular check-ups, having the right kind of designer prescription glasses, and monitoring any changes in your vision, you can take the right course of action sooner.

 

Our team of friendly optometrists and opticians are on hand to advise you, so find a practice or book a 3D OCT eye exam at your local Optical Revolution store, or at Wheeler & Kirk in Southfields, or at Bott’s in Eastbourne. For more information, contact us today and we’ll be on hand to help you further.

 

 

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