What Is Age Related Macular Degeneration or ARMD?
Age Related Macular Degeneration is the leading cause in blindness and an age related disease that typically runs in families. Currently there is no cure for this widely researched ocular disease, and ARMD related vision loss cannot usually be recovered. However, if detected early and with the correct consultation preventative measures can be put in place so it is recommended to have regular comprehensive eye exams.
The macular is the part of the back of the eye concerned with detailed vision. Degeneration happens when the cells become damaged or stop working and is the main cause of sight loss in the over 50s.
Reducing the risk of AMD can be greatly helped by a better diet, and an increased intake of antioxidants — green leafy vegetables/salads containing lutein and zeanthin are beneficial. Zinc is a very important mineral in many biochemical reactions and helps offer protection from free radical damage. Other supplements such as vitamins C and E, beta carotene and copper have also been shown to help. Additionally, exposure to UVB rays increases the risk so make sure your sunglasses are doing enough to help protect your eyes.
There are two forms of macular degeneration: dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). The term neovascular refers to the growth of new blood vessels.
Dry AMD (non-neovascular)
Dry AMD, also referred to as astrophic AMD, is the most common form. It occurs when the camel gets thinner with age, and there are 3 stages: early intermediate, and late. It usually progresses slowly over several years. There is currently no treatment for the late stage of Dry AMD, however you can find ways to mitigate any loss of sight and make the most of your remaining vision. In the same token, if you only have late Dry AMD in one of your eyes, you can take steps to protect the other eye to prolong your sight, generally.
Wet AMD (neovascular)
Wet AMD, also referred to as neovascular AMD, is the less common form of late AMD which usually causes vision loss at a faster rate. Any form of Dry AMD can turn into Wet AMD, however Wet AMD is always late stage, and is caused when abnormal blood vessels grow in the back of the eye, damaging the macula. Whilst there is no treatment for Dry AMD, there are treatments available for Wet AMD. Speak with your eye doctor about the best solution for you.
Treatment of Macular Degeneration
Treating AMD depends on the stage and type. And whilst there is currently no treatment for early AMD, your doctor can keep track of how your eyes are doing and using regular eye exams help to mitigate further loss of vision where possible. Improvement in your diet, regular exercise and eliminating smoking as. Habit can also help improve your symptoms.
In the case of intermediate AMD, dietary supplements (vitamins and minerals) can help put a stop to it from progressing into late AMD. If you have late AMD in only one eye, such supplements may also aid the slowing down of AMD in your other eye.
If you have wet AMD, other treatments may help stop further vision loss, including:
- Anti-VEGF drugs, which are medicines injected directly into your eye by your eye doctor
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT), which is a combination of Anti-VEGF injections and laser treatment
As mentioned, there is currently no known treatment to cure late dry AMD, however this is an area under constant research.It is essential that you undergo regular eye tests if you have been diagnosed with any form of AMD, as adequate treatment can help drastically preserve your vision and stop it from further deterioration.