Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, affects as many as 11 million people in the United States. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in people over 50 years of age. It occurs when the macula, which is the small central portion of the retina, begins to deteriorate. The macula is responsible for sharp, central vision and is required to see objects that are straight ahead.
Macular degeneration manifests itself in two forms, dry and wet. The dry form is much more common, and patients may lose some form of central vision. There is no current treatment. The dry form can lead to the wet form, which occurs in only 10% of patients but accounts for 90% of severe vision loss. Treatments are available to stop the wet form from progressing, and in some cases restore lost vision.
Risk factors for AMD include age (60 and over increases risk), smoking, race (more common among Caucasians), and genetics. Making healthy lifestyle choice may reduce the risk of developing AMD or slow its progression. Exercising regularly, maintaining appropriate blood pressure and cholesterol levels, consuming a diet rich in leafy greens, and of course, avoiding smoking, can help keep your eyes (and the rest of you!) healthy and happy.
For more information on age-related macular degeneration, visit the National Eye Institute webpage on AMD at https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen.