Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease with a progressive loss of central vision, leaving the peripheral or side vision intact. It affects the ability to read, drive, recognize faces and perform activities that require detailed vision.
Macular degeneration is usually related to aging and most frequently affects people over the age of 50. However, it is not a normal or inevitable consequence of aging.
Macular degeneration is progressive and painless and does not result in total vision loss.
• Stages of macular degeneration
Macular degeneration is classified as:
• Early and intermediate stage
Caused by the progressive build-up of waste material (drusen) under the retina. These stages typically have little or no impact on vision, however, some people with the intermediate stage may notice changes to their central vision. Currently, there is no treatment available for the early and intermediate stages. Research is being conducted to develop treatments.
Progression to late-stage may occur, however, progression in each eye can differ. Diet and lifestyle are important for maintaining healthy eyes. A select combination of vitamins and minerals may reduce the risk of progression in some individuals. Advice from an eye care professional should be sought.
• Late stage
This is the vision-impairing stage, which can be further divided into dry (atrophic) macular degeneration or wet (neovascular) macular degeneration.
- Dry (atrophic): caused by the gradual atrophy (loss) of retinal cells. It may lead to a gradual loss of central vision. Currently, there is no treatment available for the dry form. Research is being conducted to develop
- Wet (neovascular): caused by the formation of fragile blood vessels which leak fluid and blood within and under the retina. It often leads to a rapid loss of central vision. Loss of vision in one eye may go unnoticed if vision in the fellow eye is good. Regular vision testing of each eye in turn is
• Early detection is critical
The early detection of any form of macular degeneration is crucial to saving sight. Difficulty with vision should never be dismissed as just a part of getting older. In its early stages macular
degeneration may not result in noticeable visual symptoms but it can be detected with an eye examination.
The earlier that macular degeneration is detected the earlier that steps can be undertaken to help slow its progression and save sight through treatment and/or lifestyle modifications.
Any sudden changes to vision should be treated as a medical emergency. See your eye doctor immediately.
Dry AMD and AREDS Vitamins
AREDS 2 (Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2) was a very large research study. It looked at taking vitamins and minerals daily for AMD. This study found that certain nutritional supplements could help some people who have a lot of drusen. These supplements may also help people who have lost a lot of vision in at least one eye from AMD. Taking the following nutritional supplements every day may help these people lower their risk of getting late-stage or wet AMD
It is important to remember that nutritional supplements are not a cure for AMD, but they may help to slow the disease in some people with early- to mid-stage AMD.
Talk to your eye doctor about what vitamins you should take to protect your eyes.