What You Should Know About Macular Degeneration

May 16, 2023
What You Should Know About Macular Degeneration
Like all body parts, your eye tissue degrades over time, and macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness. Don’t let it sneak up on you; learn all you can about this dangerous age-related eye disease.

Several conditions cause vision impairment, but nothing causes blindness like macular degeneration — especially in folks over 65. In fact, it’s so closely connected with growing old that it’s often called age-related macular degeneration, or AMD.

Unfortunately, macular degeneration is stealthy and can sneak up on you with symptoms you can easily miss. But we won’t.

Dr. Maher Fanous, our experienced ophthalmologist at North Florida Eye Center, can detect macular degeneration before you can — and before it wreaks havoc on your eyesight. Here’s what he wants you to know.

Macular degeneration comes in two forms

AMD affects most people in its dry form, where the macula thins over time. The condition typically progresses gradually in three stages: early, intermediate, and late. Unfortunately, late dry AMD has no cure, but there are ways to make the best out of the remaining vision. If it is present in only one eye, preventative measures can protect the other eye. 

Wet AMD, on the other hand, is a less common form of late-stage AMD where abnormal blood vessels grow in the back of the eye and leak fluid, damaging the macula and accelerating vision loss. 

You may have AMD without knowing it

While the earliest stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may not cause noticeable symptoms, early detection is key to effective treatment. 

So, how can you protect your vision when you don’t have obvious warning signs? Simple: schedule a comprehensive eye exam at North Florida Eye Center. 

Even if you don't wear glasses or contacts, Dr. Fanous recommends that all adults — even those without symptoms — get an exam by age 40. If you're over 65, make sure to have an exam every one to two years. However, don't hesitate to book an appointment sooner if you experience discomfort or changes in eyesight. 

Age isn’t the only thing that causes AMD

Advancing age is the driving factor behind AMD, but it’s not the only one. Smoking comes in a close second. Studies show that people who smoke tend to develop AMD 10 years sooner than those who don’t smoke. 

You’re at a higher risk for AMD if you have:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • A family history of AMD
  • Heart disease
  • Farsightedness
  • Light-colored eyes
  • Excessive sun exposure

Also, women get AMD more frequently than men, and Caucasians are at higher risk than others. 

You can check for AMD at home

Looking at an Amsler grid once daily is a simple yet effective way to keep an eye on AMD. You can download the grid, print it, and place it in a convenient place, like on your fridge. Cover one eye, look at the dot in the center of the grid lines from about 12 inches away, and do the same with the other eye. 

If the lines look straight, you're good to go. If they look wavy, distorted, blurry, or dim, call Dr. Fanous right away.

Eat for your eye health

Omega-3 fatty acids are known to protect your eye health and may slow AMD progression, so add more cold-water fish like salmon and tuna to your diet.

While you’re at it, up your intake of nutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and vitamin C by eating eye-friendly foods like citrus fruits, kale, spinach, corn, broccoli, squash, and black-eyed peas. Enjoying a colorful and nutrient-rich diet might just be the key to seeing your way to a healthier future.

To learn more about AMD or to schedule a comprehensive exam with Dr. Fanous, contact North Florida Eye Center by phone or online and spot AMD before it damages your vision.