Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 50. Currently, 1.65 million Americans have it. By itself, it does not lead to complete blindness, but it certainly interferes with everyday activities. Below is an overview of the disorder and the risk factors for developing it.

There are three stages to AMD, early, intermediate, and late. The early stage hardly shows any symptoms. Symptoms during the intermediate stage are very subtle, so discovery is more likely to happen during an eye exam. AMD is most noticeable during the late stage. During this late stage, there are two kinds of AMD, dry and wet.

Dry AMD is where the macula deteriorates. This leads to blurred central vision or blind spots in the center of the eye. Dry AMD is more common than wet. Wet AMD is where abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and leak fluid into it. This causes visual distortions such as straight lines becoming wavy or objects looking lopsided. Wet AMD progresses faster than dry AMD. Dry AMD can also develop into wet AMD at any time.

The main risk factors for it are family history, age of 50 or more, smoking, race (Caucasians are more likely to develop it), being overweight, poor nutrition, and high blood pressure.

Lifestyle changes can help lessen the severity of AMD. It’s also a good idea to get regular eye exams. In the earlier stages, eye exams are the only reliable way to detect AMD as symptoms are minor. If you have a family history of AMD, it’s especially prudent to get regular screenings.

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