What is Macular Degeneration?

Elderly man getting his annual eye exam

By: Christopher Blodi, MD, Monique Root, OD, and Jesse Westrum, OD

What is AMD?
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older.  It causes damage to the macula, a small area in the center of the retina and the part of the eye needed for sharp central vision.  For some individuals, AMD advances slowly so vision loss goes unnoticed for a prolonged period.  In other cases, AMD progresses more rapidly and can lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes. AMD does not lead to complete blindness; however, the loss of central vision can significantly impede daily activities such as reading, driving, cooking and fixing things around the house.

Who is at greatest risk of AMD?

  • The disease is most likely to occur for individuals who are age 55 and older.

  • Smoking doubles the risk of AMD.

  • Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease than African-Americans or Hispanics.

  • Individuals with a family history of AMD

Can AMD be prevented?
There is currently no known cure for AMD, but there are things that you can do to minimize your risk of developing the disease and possibly slow the progression if you are diagnosed with the condition.  Preventive suggestions include:

  • Eat a healthy diet that is rich in green leafy vegetables and fish

  • Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels

  • Avoid smoking

  • Exercise regularly

  • Wear sunglasses

  • Dietary supplements, if advised by your eye doctor

How do I know if I have AMD?
It is very important to have regular eye exams, particularly as you age, or if you have any of the risk factors associated with AMD.  The eye exam should include the use of eye drops to widen the pupil.  This provides a better view of the back of the eye and helps the eye doctor detect the earliest signs.

If you have an advanced stage of AMD, a specially trained low-vision optometrist can prescribe certain tools to magnify or improve the contrast of everyday print and objects including:

  • High powered reading glasses

  • Lighted and digital magnifiers

  • Large print and speech output computer software

  • Reading machines

  • Talking watches, clocks and calculators

Broadlawns Eye Clinic and our highly skilled team of medical providers are here to attend to your overall eye health, including examinations, injections, surgical procedures, eyeglasses and contact lenses. To schedule an appointment with Broadlawns Eye Clinic, please call (515) 282-2362.

Here’s to your eye health!