Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of vision. It is caused by the deterioration of the macula which is located at the back of the eye. AMD is the leading cause of legal blindness in the United States for people over age 65. AMD is present in approximately 10% of the population over age 52 and in up to 33% of individuals older than 75.

Types of AMD

There are two types of macular degeneration: Dry AMD and Wet AMD.

  • Dry AMD occurs when small clumps of scar tissue called drusen form under the macula. This condition can also occur when the retinal pigment layer under the retina degenerates (this is rare).
  • Wet AMD occurs when new blood vessels grow under the macula, leaking blood and fluid that cause the macula to blister.

Patients with Dry AMD in Phoenix may develop Wet AMD over time, so an ophthalmologist should regularly monitor any vision changes very closely.

Symptoms of AMD

While vision loss is typically severe and rapid with Wet AMD, Dry AMD symptoms usually develop gradually in one or both eyes. Symptoms can include:

  • Blurry or hazy vision
  • Difficulty seeing in dim light
  • Difficulty recognizing faces
  • Blind spot in central vision
  • Dullness of colors
  • Straight lines appear wavy

Because AMD does not cause pain or irritation, the symptoms can easily be overlooked. Regular eye exams in Phoenix can detect AMD.

Causes of AMD

There is no singular cause of AMD. Some risk factors may include:

  • Age
  • Genetics / family history of AMD
  • Smoking
  • Female gender
  • Light-colored eyes
  • Fair colored skin
  • Poor nutrition
  • High cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular disease

Treatment of AMD

There is no cure for AMD; however, there are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease. It is also important to stop smoking if you have AMD.

  • Dry AMD Treatment: Combination of vitamins with high doses of antioxidants and zinc. We are proud to offer our patients Focus Vitamins.
  • Wet AMD Treatment: Injections of anti-angiogenic medications into the eye can prevent development of new blood vessels and reduce leakage from existing blood vessels. Sometimes laser therapy is used to destroy abnormal blood vessels.

Amsler Grid

The Amsler grid eye test is used to help macular degeneration patients manage their condition and alert them to any changes in their condition. This is a simple test that can be done at home.

Instructions for Amsler Grid

  1. Print out the grid
  2. Wear your reading glasses, if applicable
  3. Hold the grid at reading distance
  4. Cover one eye and focus on the black dot in the center of the grid
  5. Note any lines in your peripheral vision that appear wavy, crooked or missing
  6. Mark the affected lines on the chart
  7. Repeat process with other eye
  8. Keep track of any changes to your Amsler grid testing

Click here to download the Amsler grid

If you notice any changes in your vision or in your Amsler grid tests, contact your ophthalmologist immediately. These changes may signify a worsening of your condition. Schedule your retinal exam in Phoenix at Associated Retina Consultants today.

If you have been experiencing any symptoms of AMD in Phoenix or have a family history of AMD, contact Associated Retina Consultants to schedule an eye exam.