AMD is a disorder that affects the central part of the retina called the macula.
The disorder progresses in time and is an increasingly frequent cause of significant loss of eyesight in persons aged 65 years or more living in developed countries. AMD occurs in two forms, dry and wet. In the dry form, which accounts for about 90% of AMD cases, cellular debris called drusen accumulates in the area of retina and regional degeneration occurs. The wet form, called the exudative form, is much rarer, affecting about 1 in each 10 persons suffering from AMD. In this form, abnormal blood vessels grow in the area of the macula. As a result of this growth, the vessels burst, leading to hemorrhages and a significant loss of eyesight in the central part of the visual field.
FIRST SYMPTOMS OF AMD
Most patients with the dry form of AMD show no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When the disease develops, the center of the patient’s visual field becomes cloudy, straight lines become warped, perception of contrast decreases, and perceived objects seem distorted. Next, eyesight becomes progressively worse. These changes are usually extremely rapid in the wet form of AMD. Should you experience such symptoms, consult an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Although we do not know everything about AMD, it is certain that age and genetic background are the most significant risk factors. Other risk factors include heart diseases, high blood pressure, smoking, incorrect diet, obesity, and excessive sunbathing.
HOW IS AMD DIAGNOSED?
In “Centre de la Vision”, our ophthalmology center, a physician who suspects AMD in a patient has a range of specialist tests at their disposal, such as fluorescein angiography, which uses a contrasting medium called fluorescein to examine the state of the retina and the choroid, and optical coherence tomography (OCT), which produces high-resolution cross sections of the retina.
HOW IS AMD TREATED?
Vitamins, minerals, lutein, and omega-3 fat acids can slow down the progress of AMD, which why treatment of its dry form often involves a diet rich in the above nutrients and using dietary supplements in the form of pills containing these nutrients. On the other hand, the newest treatment of the wet form of AMD involves intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) chemicals (LUCENTIS). During the treatment, injections are made into the vitreous chamber of the eye. Our center has been using this method for 2 years with highly promising results: not only can the disease be stopped in its development, but in many cases, visual acuity can also be restored.