Worried about vision problems? Wondering if you may have macular degeneration and what it is?

We asked the Food and Drug Administration to help us with a quick Q and A.

We know: All About Macular Degeneration

What is age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is when light-sensing cells in the central part of the retina (macula) which is responsible for clear vision, break down.

Are there different kinds of macular degeneration?

Most people have ‘dry’ AMD in which the light sensitive cells deteriorate but there is no bleeding. About 10% of people who suffer from the disease have ‘wet’ AMD in which new blood vessels grow and leak blood and fluid under the macula.

In some cases, the diseases progresses slowly. In other people, it can progress over the course of weeks to months. It rarely leads to blindness, but can cause severe and irreversible loss of central vision.

What are some of the common symptoms of AMD?

Common symptoms include blurry vision, distorted vision, seeing straight lines as crooked or wavy and darkness at the center of your vision.

What factors put someone at higher risk for macular degeneration?

Risk factors include:

  • A family history of the disease
  • Age: people over age 60 should get an eye exam every two years
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • People who have eaten few dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Some studies have suggested farsightedness and light eye color

What can I do to help prevent AMD?

You may be able to lower your risk by eating dark green, leafy vegetables with vitamins A and C. Nutritional supplements such as vitamins A and C, beta carotene and zinc may also help, if taken properly. Check with your doctor.

What can I do to check my eyes?

Besides regular check ups, you can sometimes detect the onset of AMD by covering one eye and checking the for abnormal vision in it, then checking the other. Also an Amsler Grid with a dot in the center can be used at home to help you determine if there are abnormalities in your vision.

What are the common treatments for AMD?

For dry AMD, there is no specific treatment currently except low vision rehabilitation and aids such as magnifying lenses mounted on eyeglasses, and miniature telescopes.

For wet AMD, there have been some recent advances including a drug injection and laser treatment, and laser surgery can also be helpful in preserving vision in some cases.

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