More Information About Macular Degeneration
AMD causes significant vision loss in our central vision due to a gradual degeneration of the macula. It is the leading cause of vision loss in Canadians over age 60.
Causes of Macular Degeneration – Age-related macular degeneration’s direct causes are not yet known, though age is a known factor. The physical cause of generation (the slow breakdown of cells) is known to be what causes AMD, but what actually causes the breakdown is still a mystery.
Studies have shown that lifestyle factors, particularly if you smoke or not, can influence the development and severity of AMD. However, these studies are far from conclusive; research is still being conducted as to what influences AMD’s growth.
Symptoms of AMD – AMD typically has no pain associated with it, and so its development is often undiagnosed until it begins causing noticeable vision loss. The best way to detect AMD is to detect it preemptively via eye exams.
Symptoms may include:
- Reduced quality of central vision in one or both eyes
- Greatly reduced low-light and night vision
- Visual distortions
- Difficulty reading (at any distance)
Types of AMD – Macular degeneration has two types: dry (atrophic) macular degeneration and wet (exudative) macular degeneration.
- Dry Macular Degeneration is by far the most common version of AMD and is responsible for approximately 90% of cases. Called atrophic AMD, it is caused when the cells in and beneath the retina begin to deteriorate and thin out. Small yellowish-white flecks, called drusen, begin to appear in the visual field and impair vision.
- Wet Macular Degeneration is the most challenging variant of the disease. It is caused when abnormal blood vessels within and below the retina begin to grow. This growth causes them to eventually burst, leaking blood and other fluids into the macula.
Diagnosing AMD – During an eye exam we will look for signs of AMD. There are numerous tests that we perform that indicate the growth of AMD.
- We use the VitaRisk, a state of the art test that assesses your genetic risk profile. This test can help inform treatments for AMD, as well as determining the probability of the disease progressing to wet AMD.
- The Amsler grid test is a very famous and simple to perform test that involves you looking at a grid of vertical and horizontal lines. In the middle of this grid is a dot; patient’s cover one of their eyes, using the free eye to focus on the dot. The appearance of the grid (such as appearing wavy, blurry, or dark) can indicate the presence of AMD.
- Digital retinal imaging is a process where we take high-resolution images of your inner eye, including your retina and macula. Signs of macular degeneration can be easily spotted and tracked.
- Ocular coherence tomography (OCT) scans and maps your retina. This process produces a detailed image of your macula and provides valuable information about cellular thickness and health.