What is ARMD?
Age is a crucial factor when it comes to our fitness. Some conditions occur as a result of aging. ARMD is one such condition that occurs with age and causes degeneration of macula (a part of the retina). The macula is a small area of the retina which plays a significant role in controlling our ability to drive, watch television, read, recognize faces, or use a computer. There are millions of people who have been affected by this condition, with the figure being put up at an estimate of 196 million cases in 2020. It is known to contribute to 5 per cent of cases of blindness.
Don’t let Macular Degeneration take away the centre of your world
Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is one of the leading causes of
blindness and affects the central vision.
Forms of macular degeneration
Macular degeneration occurs in dry or wet form. The dry form is seen more than the wet form, with 85 -90 % cases being diagnosed with this kind.
Dry AMD is caused majorly by two reasons-deposition of pigment in the macula or thinning of macular tissues. Sometimes both the causes may be working towards causing it in an individual.
Wet AMD is characterized by abnormal growth of blood vessels growing beneath the retina. This phenomenon permanently damages the photoreceptor’s calls in the macula resulting in the creation of a central blind spot which is known as a scotoma.
What causes ARMD?
Though macular degeneration is generally attributed to aging, researchers argue that there is a genetic aspect to the causes. Research has proven that the presence of gene called complement factor H (CFH) can elevate the chances of developing AMD. This gene is accountable for almost fifty per cent blindness cases due to macular degeneration.
Some other investigations have revealed that variants of another gene complement factor B can be held responsible for the development of AMD.
It has been found that specific variants of one or both of these genes are responsible for 74 per cent of AMD cases. Some other factors also may be associated with the development of the condition.
Another theory suggests that deprivation of oxygen in the retina leads to the growth of a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF normally functions to produce blood vessels in the embryonic stage or post-injury stage. Too much activity from the VEGF causes the formation of too many blood vessels which are prone to opening and breaking thereby damaging the macula and retina.
What are the risk factors?
Aging -The risk of developing AMD increases significantly after 40. It goes one to emphasize the fact that eye check-ups are so much important after attaining the age of 40.
Other risk factors associated with the condition are –
Heredity– As mentioned above, research has proved that variants of different genes can give rise to macular degeneration.
Smoking- Smoking is associated with 25 per cent of AMD cases which result in severe vision loss. Passive smokers too have high chances of developing AMD.
Obesity– Researchers claim that dry AMD is seen more in obese people as they are had more prone to having advanced macular degeneration.
Inactivity– People with dry AMD who led an active lifestyle were at a lesser risk advanced AMD, as compared to people with dry AMD with a sedentary lifestyle.
High blood pressure-Hypertension is also known to cause the condition A.
Some anti-psychotic drugs and chloroquine (medications used to treat malaria) — can elevate your chances of developing AMD.
How can one classify the symptoms of ARMD?
The condition results in a gradual and painless loss of vision. In a rarity, there can be sudden vision loss. If a person sees shadowy areas in his central vision, fuzzy or distorted spots in the central portion of his field of vision, then he must get himself checked for ARMD.
Amsler grid is a chart of black lines arranged in a graph pattern. It is used for detecting vision problems in people. So people should get themselves tested by viewing this chart. Eye care practitioners look for signs of ARMD through retinal exams using this chart to detect early signs of ARMD. If ARMD is suspected, then the doctor may ask the patient to go for retinal blood vessels examination through imaging tests to determine the number of retinal blood vessels surrounding the macula.
What are the treatment options?
In the present scenario, there is no cure for age-related macular degeneration.
There are various treatments for slowing down the progression of wet AMD. The most widely used method of treatment includes injecting the anti-VEGF agents into the eye. Using this medication helps in the reduction of new blood vessel growth and the prevention of swelling in the retinal area.
Diet and macular degeneration
Research has provided data that there is indeed a strong association between a balanced nutritious diet and low AMD risk.
Research has also shown that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help in the prevention of the development of AMD and also arresting its progression.
Taking supplements with lutein and zeaxanthin prevents the onset of AMD by increasing the density of pigments in the macula.
Testing and detection for AMD
If you fall in the high-risk group or there are some signs associated with AMD, then the doctor may recommend checking your vision with the Amsler grid card regularly.
In the test, the patient is made to view the Amsler grid separately with each eye. It helps in monitoring the vision loss of a person. The Amsler grid test reveals central vision problems, even before the eye doctor detects damage related to AMD in a routine check-up.
People who suffer from vision loss due to macular degeneration can avail low vision devices which help them in establishing specific visual tasks.
Risk factors for developing A.RMD are:
- Increasing age.
- Family History of ARMD.
- High Cholesterol or blood pressure.
What are the symptoms of ARMD?
- Gradual painless decrease in your central vision or even a blind spot.
- Requirement of increasingly brighter light for doing close work with haziness of printed words.
- Reduced brightness of colors.
- Difficulty in adapting to low light levels like a dimly lit room.
- Visual distortions like straight lines appearing wavy.
- Hallucinations of animals, people or shapes in advanced stages.
- Distortion of straight lines in your field of vision.
- Central vision loss.
- The need for bright lighting.
- Trouble recognizing faces.
What is the treatment for ARMD?
For dry ARMD, apart from the use of anti-oxidant medicines, no other treatment is available.
For wet ARMD,
- Medications which are injected directly into your eye.
- Laser Photocoagulation to destroy abnormal, leaky blood vessels.
- Photodynamic Therapy in which a laser activates a drug which is injected in your arm. The drug
- Collects in the abnormal blood vessels and damages them.
- Surgery for implantation of a telescopic lens in one eye.
If you have macular degeneration or know someone who does, this is the place for you.
There are hope and help. Contact our Specialist today.
Is macular degeneration related only to the elderly?
Although aging is the most common factor, younger people too can get affected by macular degeneration. Although such cases are rare, there have been such cases due to genetic defects. Macular degeneration may be seen in people with vitelliform macular dystrophy, Stargardt disease or myopic muscular degeneration.
Does the condition occur in one eye or both the eyes?
The condition m of macular degeneration may occur in one eye or both the eyes. In many cases, wet macular degeneration may be seen in one eye with dry macular degeneration in the other eye.
How does reading affect the condition of age-related macular degeneration?
Reading doesn’t lead to worsening of the condition but it may result in fatigue and requirement of more concentration during reading. Such patients are advised to take a few breaks during their reading sessions.
Is there any difference between dry eyes and dry age-related macular degeneration?
Yes. Dry eyes are a completely different eye condition that affects only the front portion of the eye. However, macular degeneration affects the retina which is situated at the back of the eye.
How can I prevent ARMD?
- Undergo routine eye exams.
- Control other diseases like high blood pressure.
- Choose a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit Smoking.
My father suffer from ARMD. Does it mean I will get it too?
It does not mean that you will get ARMD for sure. But it definitely signifies that you have a greater risk. There is another type of macular degeneration wherein more than one young member of the family can be affected. Regular eye check-ups can help detect this at an early stage.