As we age, the need to start wearing glasses is not particularly surprising. Annoying as it may be, the need for glasses is a result of the stress our eyes experience as we age. However, some eyesight changes can denote the onset of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD); a serious ocular condition that has become the leading cause of vision loss in adults aged 50 or older.
It’s difficult to predict exactly how AMD will develop for each individual. The timeline and progression of AMD differs on a person-to-person basis, and the speed in which degeneration advances can be largely attributed to how a patient takes care of their eyes and overall health. It can also be noted that early detection of the disease plays a pivotal role in treatment success. Being proactive about your eye health by visiting the optometrist and knowing symptoms before they arise are the first steps in preventing vision loss.
Nevertheless, if AMD is left unchecked and untreated, it is much more likely to develop and complete the progression from the early dry stage to the more devastating wet form.
The following is an idea of how the different stages of AMD can potentially progress:
Early Stage Dry AMD
The observation of drusen is common in the early stages of dry AMD. However, many people with early stage dry AMD do not experience reduced vision. As a matter of fact, in many cases, early stage dry AMD patients have 20/20 vision.
This is precisely why, it is imperative to see an optometrist at least once a year. Due to AMD’s slow and painless progression, it can go undetected for years; early diagnosis is imperative.
Intermediate Stage Dry AMD
In the intermediate stage of dry AMD, drusen become larger or irregularly shaped. It is in the intermediate stage that an AMD patient is likely to experience blurred vision and require more lighting in order to read. Blind spots or “scotomas” may begin to develop. Additionally, a person may start to have trouble deciphering different colours.
Late Stage Dry AMD
Also called “Geographic Atrophy,” in late stage dry AMD, the macula cells literally begin to die. Large portions of central vision will become even more blurry.
Late stage dry AMD has the potential to advance into wet AMD, however, dry AMD can advance and cause vision loss without turning into the wet form. Some AMD patients never develop the wet form. Still, there is no definite way to tell if or when the dry form will progress into the wet form.
Only about 10% of patients suffering from AMD have the wet form and it is far more devastating than the dry form. Wet AMD, also known as neovascular AMD, is responsible for 90% of all blindness resulting from macular degeneration. Upon developing this form of the disease, pigment changes will begin to appear in the retina. Then, the light sensitive layer of the retina starts to break down and deteriorate more quickly.
With wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels begin to grow under the macula. Often, these vessels are fragile and will leak blood and fluid into the macula. Such leakage can cause major damage and often speeds up the loss of central vision.
Early symptoms of wet AMD are major changes in one’s vision. For instance, sufferers may notice doorframes and walls start to appear wavy rather than straight.
Additionally, there are three sub-types of wet macular degeneration to consider. They include the following:
- Predominantly classic: The most aggressive form of wet AMD. Predominantly classic AMD leads to quicker vision degeneration than the other forms. 25% of all wet AMD cases are predominantly classic.1
- Occult: With the occult form of wet AMD, leaking blood vessels are hidden beneath the fovea and are not well defined. Lesions begin to grow deep in the eye and then leak. Occult wet AMD results in the slowest rate of vision loss out of the three sub-types.1
- Minimally classic: Slower vision loss than the predominantly classic form, but faster than occult.1
Understanding and treating AMD of any form is important. Early supplementation and health conscientiousness are your greatest defenses against the degenerative disease. You can slow down AMD’s progression.
MacuHealth is a high-dose formulation of antioxidants and carotenoids (meso-zeaxanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein). Once-a-day MacuHealth can help slow the progression of vision loss and restore normal macular pigment levels.
What form of AMD do you (or your loved one) deal with? What do you do to stop the progression of the disease? Share with us.