Most of us have heard of Age-related Macular Degeneration, but do we really know what it is? Let’s have a simple discussion of the pertinent points:
What is Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)?
It is an age-related eye disease which causes central vision loss in the elderly in Singapore
When does AMD occur?
When there are degenerative changes to the macula, which is the central portion of the retina located on the inside, innermost layer of the eye, it results in loss of central vision and usually occurs in both eyes, although in an asymmetric fashion.
Who are at risk of AMD?
- Age > 50 years old
- Smokers – increases risk of AMD by 2 – 4 times
- Race – Caucasian tends to be more prone
- Family history/Genetics – those with family history of AMD
- Systemic health problems – Hypertension, High Cholesterol
- UV exposure
- Low dietary antioxidants intake
Symptoms of AMD
- Blurring of central vision
- Wavy lines (metamorphopsia)
- Floating red dots (could signify bleeding)
How many types of AMD are there?
There are 2 types – dry and wet.
Dry age-related macular degeneration is more common and occurs when macular tissue gradually becomes thin and stops working effectively. It is usually mild and progresses slowly. There is currently no cure however steps can be taken to slow down its progression and prevent blindness in the long run.
Wet age-related macular degeneration occurs when fluid or bleeding from abnormally formed blood vessels under the macula occurs. It is less common and vision loss can be rapid and severe, but it may respond to treatment if diagnosed early. If discovered too late, bleeding beneath the retina leaves permanent scarring of the macula with residual visual loss.
Dry AMD can eventually convert into Wet AMD with time which can lead to increased vision loss. Hence the idea is to detect dry AMD early and prevent it from converting to the wet form.
How to prevent AMD?
- Avoid smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Eat a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables and fish
- Regular eye checks
- Protect your eyes from UV exposure from sunlight
Treatment for AMD
Treatment of Dry age-related macular degeneration includes simple lifestyle changes and regular monitoring for the disease helps to slow the progression from turning into the wet form. Cessation of smoking will definitely help. Patients can take supplements high in lutein and zeaxanthin (which are retinal pigments) to further enhance the level of antioxidants in the body if their dietary intake of vitamins and minerals is low. There are studies being done currently that show that specialized laser therapies may be able to slow down the progression of dry AMD.
The treatment for Wet age-related macular degeneration should be customised by your retinal eye doctor. It is aimed at stopping the leakage of blood and fluid for as long as possible. Your doctor may give injections, laser or a combination of both treatments depending on your eye condition.
Do I have age-related macular degeneration?
Sometimes in early disease, there is little to no symptoms. It is best to have an eye exam by a retinal specialist who will be able to scan your eye with the optical coherence tomography (OCT) machine. This OCT machine will be able to show almost microscopic details of the retina and can detect early changes of dry age-related macular degeneration. At Asia Retina, we use the OCT machine with the highest resolution quality in order to offer the best diagnostic and therapeutic solutions for our patients. If you are keen for an eye assessment, contact our team at 6732 0007 or 9118 0007 for an appointment today.