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Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is an eye disease that becomes progressively more common as people get older. The disease affects the macula, which is the middle portion of the retina that is responsible for central vision. As the disease progresses, people with AMD retain their peripheral vision but lose the ability to see things straight ahead.
In the beginning, AMD may have no symptoms. As signs of age related macular degeneration begin to appear, the most common symptom is a blurry area in your central vision. This may progress to blank areas in your central vision, or a larger portion of your central vision being blurry. The progression of the disease varies from person to person, with some people developing symptoms quickly and others much more slowly.
The cause of age related macular degeneration is unknown. However, there are certain risk factors that predispose people to AMD:
It is not known how all of these risk factors affect a person's chances of getting AMD. However, it is a good idea for people with some risk factors to attempt to lower their other risk factors. For example, people with a family history of AMD may want to be especially careful to control any other potential cause of age related macular degeneration.
AMD is usually diagnosed by an optometrist during an eye exam. This may be a routine eye exam, or it may be an appointment made because you have noticed some form of visual impairment. Early-stage AMD that has no symptoms can sometimes be diagnosed during a dilated eye exam. It is important to know that not all people with early-stage AMD will develop later stages of the disease.
Treatment for AMD depends on the stage the condition is in and how quickly it progresses. There is currently no medical treatment for early AMD. A regular eye exam with an optometrist is crucial for people with this condition because it can track whether the disease is progressing. Adopting healthy life habits may help reduce the risk of progression.
Later stages of AMD can be treated with injections or laser therapy. These treatments have variable success rates, and they are not a cure. However, patients who have developed late-stage AMD typically have severe vision loss and may get some benefit out of these treatments.
Here at Westchester Eye Care Center in Los Angeles, we provide comprehensive vision care for patients with many types of eye disease. A routine eye exam can detect signs of age related macular degeneration before it is obvious to you, as well as potentially finding many other conditions at an early and treatable stage. To schedule an appointment with one of our optometrists in Westchester, call (310) 670-1888 today.