Age related macular degeneration (ARMD) is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans aged 65 and older. It is characterized by a prolonged degradation of the macula, the part of our retina that is responsible for central, fine detail vision. Smoking is thought to be responsible for 25% of all ARMD cases causing severe vision loss.
There are two major types of ARMD, wet and dry. Dry ARMD is most common, it is associated with a slower vision loss and is generally less disabling than the wet type. Wet ARMD gets its name because of a tendency for new blood vessels to grow in the area of the macula. These vessels generally are poor quality and leak, causing irreversible scarring. These bleeds generally arise very quickly and are difficult to predict. If you have ARMD your doctor will give you an amsler grid to monitor for subtle changes to your vision, which may be indicative of blood vessel growth. Furthermore at Valley Vision Clinic, we have a piece of diagnositic equipment (link to PHP) that can detect these early vessels before they are noticed by the patient or the doctor. This allows us to enact treatment before these devastating bleeds occur, preserving vision.
If you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, your doctor will tell you what you can do to help slow vision loss. Nutritional supplements such as vitamins and antioxidants are useful for some types of ARMD.