Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is an age-related ocular disorder and it is considered the main cause of central vision loss.
The macula is a light-sensitive area near the centre of the retina in charge of detail perception. When damaged, central vision becomes less clear.
There are two types:
Dry or atrophic ARMD
Dry degeneration causes macular thinning and atrophy and in turn, vision impairment. It is the most frequent type and generally evolves slower, resulting in progressive central vision loss.
Wet or exudative ARMD
Abnormally thin new blood vessels grow and end up bleeding and leaking fluids which damage the macula. Vision loss is much quicker in this case.
ARMD gives place to progressive central vision loss which causes difficulties with reading, writing, driving, sewing and other tasks which need special accuracy.
Distorted vision and dark shadows (scotomas) in the centre of the patient’s visual field are the main symptoms.
This disorder usually starts affecting only one eye, but ends up affecting both. This is why at the beginning patients do not realize they are losing vision unless they cover their healthy eye.
There is a simple test that can be used as a tool to detect disorders which affect the retina’s central area. In order to carry out the test, follow these instructions:
- Do not take off your glasses or contact lenses if you need them.
- Click the Amsler grid above in order to zoom it in.
- The screen should be at the same distance from your eyes as any other reading material.
- Cover one eye and look at the centre of the grid.
- Repeat this with the other eye.
If the grid looks asymmetric, any lines look wavy or distorted, or if there are any missing lines, contact your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.This test might not detect ARMD at early stages.
- Family history of ARMD
- High blood cholesterol level
ARMD is linked to genetic and environmental factors. Genetics are responsible for approximately 70% of the predisposition to suffer from ARMD.
New technological advances enable genetic tests which take into account the patient’s genetic and clinical information to be carried out in order to evaluate the risk of suffering from ARMD at different ages. On the basis of the findings of this test, a customized ophthalmological plan can be designed to early diagnose ARMD and stop its development and vision loss from occurring.
Dry ARMD has no effective treatment so far, although antioxidant supplements can be used to slow the progression of the disease in some cases.
Wet ARMD treatment involves the use of intravitreal anti-angiogenic drugs which stabilize, and in some cases improve, visual acuity.
Other ocular disorders